Slip sliding out of Biscay
After 24 hours of racing, the head of the Vendée Globe fleet is already making headway offshore of the Iberian coast. Suffice to say that the lead boats have got a sprint on. If you add to that the shifty wind conditions that the solo sailors have been experiencing since last night, you'll easily grasp the fact that those setting the pace since the start of the race have only had a short amount of time to reply to the official radio sessions this Monday. Having set sail from Les Sables d'Olonne yesterday, Sébastien Josse is still among the front runners this evening and was lying in 5th place at the 17:00 GMT ranking. However, ahead of the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild, a trio now headed by Armel Le Cléac'h has managed to get a bit of separation. Nothing overly dramatic, but the miles testify to the different weather conditions encountered by the sailors in the negotiation of the Bay of Biscay.
Squally introduction to play in Biscay
With five changes of leader after around thirty hours of racing, the tone for this 8th edition has been set! The twenty-eight* solo sailors contacted for today's radio sessions all agreed that it had been a bracing first night, despite the exceptional conditions with which the Vendée Globe fleet benefited to kick off its round the world race. Indeed, as a result of the frequent squalls rolling into the Bay of Biscay, there have been some big variations in breeze, alternating between light airs and gusts, which have made life difficult for Sébastien Josse and his rivals. However, it would seem that not everyone has had the same treatment and a group made up of Banque Populaire, Hugo Boss and St Michel Virbac - positioned downwind of the fleet - has really played its game well. As such, at around 12 noon, this particular trio were leading the way to Cape Finisterre.
Sixteen miles in their wake, Sébastien Josse was close on their heels by early afternoon and like the leaders, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild opted for the inside track at the TSS (traffic separation system) to round the NW tip of Spain. From a weather perspective and in relation to the heavy maritime shipping in this area, this passage near the coast is far from enjoyable for the sailor, who has had to increase his surveillance on deck for a large part of the day.
Heading towards the ridge of high pressure
Although for now the Vendée Globe skippers are benefiting from a N'ly breeze of 20-25 knots to slip along at speed towards the South-West, by tomorrow the scenario will be rather different, with the pace set to stall. Indeed, at the latitude of Gibraltar, a ridge of high pressure synonymous with light winds is barring their way. The solo sailors will have no other choice than to cut across it, though it is yet to be determined which trajectory to choose. This evening, the Briton Alex Thomson, who was setting a course to the South-East whilst his adversaries were continuing their course to the South-West, seemed keen to go it alone down the Iberian peninsula.
To be continued
*NB, Didac Costa turned back shortly after the start following a leak in a ballast tank damaged a large part of his electrics. This evening though, the news from Port Olona was good and the Spaniard hopes to set sail again in the coming hours.
Ranking on 7 November 2016 at 17:00GMT
- Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire)
- Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 6.8 miles astern
- Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel - Virbac) 12.2 miles astern
- Vincent Riou (PRB) 12.3 miles astern
- Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 16.9 miles astern
- Paul Meilhat (SMA) 21.9 miles astern
- Yann Eliès (Gueguiner Leucémie Espoir) 23.5 miles astern
- Jeremie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 25.9 miles astern
- Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 36.6 miles astern