Flirting with the high pressure
After setting sail from Les Sables d'Olonne on Sunday at 12:02 GMT, the Vendée Globe competitors have completed their third day at sea this lunchtime. And though the race start has worked the sailors' bodies hard as they've had to battle with squalls and shifty winds in order to get the most out of their machines, the pace set by the fleet remains steady. With the exception of Armel Le Cléac'h, leader at the 11:00 GMT ranking, there is little separating those at the front of the pack and the atmosphere is one of close-contact racing, with the focus on pouncing on the slightest wind shift so as to slip along southwards and shake off a ridge of high pressure as quickly as possible. The latter has made itself more comfortable than forecast and is set to further slow the progress of Sébastien Josse and his rivals for a good part of today.
This first part of the Vendée Globe is certainly living up to expectations. Thinking back to the 2012-2013 edition, the public witnessed four changes of leader all in all in the whole of the round the world. This year, in the space of just three days, six boats (five of which are foilers!) have already treated themselves to a spell at the top of the leader board. It's safe to say then that it's anyone's game! The weather for this race start has proven to be just as interesting. Indeed, an outgrowth of the Azores High has thwarted the weather pattern usually observed during this offshore sprint down the Iberian peninsula, namely north-easterly winds (Portuguese tradewinds), which generally enable the sailors to slip along at a fair old pace towards the Doldrums.
In this way, for the past 24hrs and more, the solo sailors have been making headway in a capricious W to NW'ly wind and are having to grin and bear it as they battle to traverse this unstable zone, which is blocking their way southwards. However, the exit doesn't look very far off now and according to the latest forecasts the NE'ly wind is expected to kick in this evening.
In order to line himself up for the next section of the race, namely the exit from the Azores High and above all the passage around Madeira, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild repositioned himself over to the West last night. At the 11:00 GMT ranking this Wednesday 9 November, Sébastien Josse was lying in 6th place some 22 miles shy of the leader, Armel Le Cléac'h, but he has a deficit of just 6 miles in relation to today's second placed skipper, Paul Meilhat.
Ranking on 9 November at 11:00 GMT
1. Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 23,524 from the finish
2. Paul Meilhat (SMA) 16.1 miles astern of the leader
3. Vincent Riou (PRB) 18.8 miles astern
4. Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel - Virbac) 19.7 miles astern
5. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 20.7 miles astern
6. Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 22 miles astern
7. Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 30.2 miles astern
8. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 32.3 miles astern
9. Yann Eliès (Gueguiner - Leucémie Espoir) 49.7 miles astern