Hunkering down in the low pressure system
Yesterday morning, Sébastien Josse third in the Vendée Globe some 600 miles astern of the top duo -, had managed to position himself ahead of a tropical low, to his SE, and was blasting along towards the second cape in this round the world race, Cape Leeuwin to the SW of Australia. However, the skipper of Gitana Team knew the timing was tight to reap the benefits of this particularly active front, with the emphasis on trying to avoid getting caught up by the phenomenon, where 10-metre waves were announced at the core of a zone with heavy seas. It was in this context, shortly after 09:30 GMT, that the sailor contacted his shore team to alert them to the serious damage caused to the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild's port foil after it violently ploughed into the wave. It was an incident that would force the skipper to put his race on hold whilst he focused on negotiating the bad weather.
Within Gitana Team, the race has understandably taken a back seat for the past 24 hours and the team's priority relates solely to the safety of the solo sailor and his boat. In this way, back in Lorient, Sébastien Josse's tight-knit team has been taking it in turns throughout the night to keep a permanent and watchful eye on the sailor. Cyril Dardashti, team manager, is at the controls with Pierre Tissier, Antoine Koch, David Boileau, Armand de Jacquelot and Sébastien Sainson: Sébastien is doing fine despite the extreme conditions he's been experiencing since yesterday afternoon. Last night, he managed to put in two gybes, which was very tricky given the strength of the wind and the sea state. These manœuvres were vital in avoiding the AEZ (Antarctic Exclusion Zone) and the associated penalty. He could have chosen to enter the zone to avoid the worst of the low pressure system, but not doing so is not just an indication of his fighting spirit but also his desire to find solutions. With the fatigue and the conditions he's encountering, he's still in a very complicated situation, explained Cyril Dardashti. Conditions are still bad and are set to remain that way throughout the day, even though the intensity of the wind and the height of the waves will drop considerably from early afternoon, improving further still over the course of tonight. Vigilance remains paramount.
Yesterday, given the deterioration in the conditions announced in the wake of Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild, it became a matter of urgency to secure the foil that was damaged when the boat ploughed into the wave, so the skipper could adopt the route that was most favourable given the weather forecast. In this way, Sébastien Josse made a temporary fix, which involved blocking the appendage in the upper position to prevent it coming out of its housing and causing structural damage to this section of the boat. For now, the extreme conditions the solo sailor is encountering means that he's finding it tough to move around inside his monohull, let alone consider working on the damaged part. For all that, there have been a number of exchanges between Sébastien and his shore team to discuss the potential technical solutions that are feasible alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Improvement in the weather tonight
Last night, the SW'ly wind picked up to 40 knots and the seas became heavier with waves of more than 7.5 metres, which were breaking over the boat. This lunchtime, Sébastien Josse is continuing to navigate his way through difficult conditions, which are not helped by the fact that it's night-time in his part of the world. According to the latest forecasts, the sea is due to ease to less than 7 metres early this Tuesday afternoon, but the situation will only improve gradually over the course of the day as the low pressure system won't drop right away until the early hours of Wednesday.
Ranking on 6 December at 11:00 GMT
1. Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 13,077.3 miles from the finish ?
2. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 100 miles behind the leader
3. Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 769.8 miles behind the leader?
4. Paul Meilhat (SMA) 1,213.2 miles behind the leader
5. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 1,474.4 miles behind the leader
6. Yann Eliès (Queguiner Leucémie Espoir) 1,670.9 miles behind the leader
7. Jean-Pierre Dick (St Michel - Virbac) 1,841 miles behind the leader