Frenchman Jean-Pierre Dick sailing Paprec-Virbac 2 has collided with an unseen object whilst leading the Vendee Globe and this has dramatically cut his speed, allowing the Brit Mike Golding on Ecover 3 to make gains. Golding is making nearly 17 knots in comparison to Dick’s 13 knots and has cut the race leaders winning margin to just 34 nautical miles.
Rotten luck for Dick who had been making great progress. Meanwhile Bernard Stamm was driven onto the rocks at Kerguelen Islands causing extensive damage to the hull of his boat Cheminee Poujoulat. This leaves Roland Jourdain aboard Veolia Environment a further 20 nautical miles behing Golding.
But with still a further 14,000 nautical miles to travel to the finish there is a long way to go and anything could happen.
The first severe gales are now reaching the leading group and will stay with it until they reach the south of Australia. The gusts are not as strong (50 to 55 knots) as those experienced by the rest of the fleet, but the average wind will remain around 35 to 45. At the same time, the swell is now longer, but the average wave height is still between 7 and 9 metres. The second low-pressure system will pass over the Kerguelens on Monday night at the same time as the middle of the fleet, but it will be losing a little of its activity.
After these two systems go by, there will be a period of calm with winds between 20 and 30 knots, which should enable the competitors to sail in more comfortable conditions. While the calm is already beginning to affect the rear of the fleet, in spite of a fairly active cold front, it will only affect the leaders on Thursday or Friday according to Meteo France.