A day of transition
For the head of the Vendée Globe fleet, of which Sébastien Josse forms part in 5th place, the second week of racing kicked off with a negotiation of the famous doldrums, a zone not exactly relished by sailors due to its versatility and its random nature. After 36 hours at a reduced pace, which was more or less severe depending on whether the sailors opted for an E'ly or W'ly trajectory, the solo sailors appear to have shaken themselves free of its clutches. As a result, the speedos have perked back up with the first signs of the SE'ly trade winds already starting to fill the sails of their Imocas. Tonight, Edmond de Rothschild and its closest rivals will make the switch into the southern hemisphere.
Stable distances between the boats
Time goes by and, fortunately, every day is different in the Vendée Globe! Indeed, yesterday, the significant differentials in speed posted between Hugo Boss and its rivals - Alex Thomson was making headway at 12 knots whilst his pursuers were struggling to exceed 5 knots - lead us to fear the worse. Indeed, there was a strong possibility that the British sailor would make good his escape and be able to go it alone into the tradewinds of the southern hemisphere. However, the deficits have stabilised and since last night, the five leaders have been racing on a fairly level playing field, even though the hierarchy remains pretty much the same and the front runners will be first to reap the benefits of their southerly gains. At the 17:00 GMT ranking, Edmond de Rothschild was 80 miles shy of the British leader, but the distance covered over the past 24 hours - 269 miles for Gitana 16 compared with 268 miles for Hugo Boss - confirms the tendency towards stability as they prepare to tackle a beam reach in the southern hemisphere.
Contacted by his shore crew at midday, Sébastien Josse told of his night under the “super extraordinary” moon: “Unfortunately, I wasn't able to really make the most of the phenomenon apart from in the small hours. Before that, there was a fair bit of cloud in the area and I was even swallowed up by a squall, which let Vincent (Riou) and Armel (Le Cléac'h) get away. It wasn't anything dramatic, but it partly explains my separation today. I'll really make the most of this calmer day to get some rest and get the boat shipshape as the wind is gradually picking up.”
The equator overnight
According to the latest estimates, the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild is set to cross the symbolic O latitude tonight. For the multiple round the world sailor that is Sébastien Josse, this change of hemisphere won't be a first, but it does herald the end of the first part of the race, which has proven to be intense and full-on: “This is exactly the rhythm I was expecting! It comes as no surprise given the line-up and the potential of our boats. Being in close contact puts you under pressure but it's really interesting. Everyone's putting themselves in the red, but nobody's letting up,” admitted the solo sailor. “Tomorrow we'll be in the southern hemisphere and in the SE'ly trade winds. The atmosphere will change and I think we'll finally have the conditions to really show what our boats are made of.”
Ranking on 15 November at 17:00 GMT
1 - Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 21,429 miles from the finish
2 - Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 56.34 miles astern
3 - Vincent Riou (PRB) 57.17 miles astern of the leader
4 - Paul Meilhat (SMA) 80.03 miles astern
5 - Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 80.41 miles astern
6 - Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 121.3 miles astern
7 - Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 125.84 miles astern
8 - Yann Eliès (Groupe Gueguiner - Leucémie Espoir) 195.51 miles astern