The escort has arrived. In his video sent today from the Indian Ocean, Sébastien Josse gave us an insight into the ballet performed by the first albatrosses in his round the world. These fascinating birds, whose wingspan can reach up to three metres, have been accompanying the sailors since the boats ventured into these latitudes. The skipper of Edmond de Rothschild is rediscovering this fabulous sight, which he hasn't had the opportunity to enjoy since his last Vendée Globe in 2008. Inevitably, the sailor is rekindling his ties with these travelling companions, which are likely to remain with him as far as Cape Horn.
These on-board images also confirm what can be seen on the charts. Indeed, the pace this morning remained slow and the reasons for this lack of breeze are the result of another ballet altogether, that of the low pressure systems this time, which are not exactly favouring the Gitana Team's monohull.
The low pressure systems are turning in on themselves as they shift eastwards on the southern racetrack. Between each of these, there is a zone of transition often synonymous with very calm conditions. Whilst the leader Armel le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) are making headway at good speed on the back of a dying front, Sébastien Josse is sailing between two systems awaiting the arrival of a new low pressure system.
This smooth flowing dance of the weather phenomena is leaving him with little alternative. The deficit is stretching away and patience is the only solution in this instance. For all that, a transition doesn't translate as inaction. Quite the contrary in fact, as the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild has been working throughout the night, putting in a series of gybes so as remain in the right corridor of breeze in readiness for the next acceleration. These manœuvres involve a great deal of concentration and effort for the solo sailor, who's tackling his 22nd day at sea.
Change of pace this evening
The deficit with the two leading boats is growing inexorably. Despite the frustration that is part and parcel of such situations, Sébastien is digging deep and managing to keep things in perspective. Indeed, recently Vincent Riou (PRB) and Morgan Lagravière (Safran) ended up out of luck and their collisions with a UFO in the South Atlantic have cost them the race. These two favourites have had to throw in the towel and are now dockside in Cape Town, South Africa.
The skipper of Gitana 16 knows the extent to which the adventure hangs by a thread so he has learned to just grin and bear it. That said, at midday this Sunday, the wind seems to have kicked back in again. The Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild was polled making 15.1 knots at 14:00 GMT whilst its average speed over the past 24 hours has been just 7.5 knots. The hull isn't yet planing with the albatrosses but the pace is certainly beginning to pick up. From this evening, the skipper is likely to be able to launch onto a long stretch on port tack, with which he might well be able to traverse a large section of the Indian Ocean.
Ranking on 27 November at 14:00 GMT
- Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 16,533.4 miles from the finish
- Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 3 miles behind the leader
- Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 448.3 miles behind the leader
- Paul Meilhat (SMA) 787.8 miles behind the leader
- Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 791.2 miles behind the leader
- Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir) 1,083.9 miles behind the leader
- Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel Virbac) 1,668.1 miles behind the leader