Shock failure hands Alex Thomson third place
With a third place finish in the Vendée Globe apparently almost guaranteed, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) heard his dream break with an abrupt bang before midnight on Monday night as Virbac Paprec 3 lost her keel with just over 2,000 of the 28,000 mile race left.
With a squall coming there was a great risk of capsize after losing the four tonne keel (providing approximately half the weight of the boat and most of its stability) and it took all the experience and expertise of the 47-year-old skipper to avoid the worst.
He managed to ease the pressure on the sails, turn the boat running downwind and fully fill the ballast tanks to stabilise the boat. The immediate danger has passed but he is still very vulnerable.
Thomson holds tightly onto his third place slot
The weekend is almost upon us and for the 12 sailors still in the race they are not thinking about donning their glad rags, or disco dancing, but tacks, gybes and sail trimming.
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) strengthened his hold on his third place. Yesterday, ahead of the game, François Gabart (MACIF) tacked first followed, seven hours later, by Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire).
Much later, in the Pacific, Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) gybed twice on his way to Cape Horn.
6th skipper Mike Golding has rounded the cape three times each way
Mike Golding (Gamesa) in sixth place rounded Cape Horn this morning at 02.05 GMT and became the only person to have raced around this infamous rock three times each way: west to east and east to west.
Golding’s passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic today is his third time solo in a Vendée Globe, rounding west to east in 2001, 2005 and now 2013. And this time – which will probably be his last solo racing passage – the relief has been considerable.
After taking something of a beating in the east Pacific Ocean over recent days, with stormy gusts to 45 knots and very big and confused seas and with the proliferation of ice, which has drifted north on to the race track, made this, his most stressful rounding yet.
Close hauled at the front and Boissières sees Sanso
The two pretenders at the front, François Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) are engaged in a match racing battle. Armel Le Cléac'h is pushing hard to the west to steal the advantage in the anticipated wind shift. Will it pay off? Caught in the dark days of dirty weather the six sailors approaching Cape Horn are still neck and neck. Last night, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) caught sight of Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) ahead on the horizon.
Frustratingly, for the front pair they are now wading through treacle home. They are battling upwind and for the next few days will have to zig zag to the end goal. They are going to be going nowhere fast, which is a stark contrast to the record breaking speeds achieved over the course of the distance.
Forth time lucky for Alex
British solo skipper Alex Thomson had less than 200 miles to make to Cape Horn at 1500hrs UTC this afternoon and should pass the legendary rock in the early hours of Friday morning lying in fourth place in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race.
Though the skipper of Hugo Boss still has more than one quarter of the course to complete, and the ice strewn passage of the Cape in itself holds considerable danger through the next 24 hours, a successful release from the Pacific Ocean and into the Atlantic will also release many of the demons of past disappointments.
Two failed previous Vendée Globe races and one solo Velux 5 Oceans – when he had to abandon his IMOCA Open 60 in the Indian Ocean – mean that this will be his first Cape Horn alone.