At the gateway to the Southern Ocean
The top trio was still making headway yesterday thanks to a low pressure system they managed to hitch a ride with offshore of Brazil. However, the drop in pace observed since this morning’s rankings, which saw speeds drop below 20 knots, is the harbinger of a change of pace at the head of the pack. Indeed, the low has stumbled into a zone of high pressure and is now shifting southwards. As such, Sébastien Josse and his closest rivals are now sailing under the influence of the Saint Helena High, positioned much further South and East than usual. In front of them, the weather situation lacks clarity with a ridge of high pressure to negotiate. In this context, it’ll be important to be opportunist and responsive.

At the 14:00 GMT ranking, Sébastien Josse was in 3rd place, 232 miles behind leader Alex Thomson. The latter has seen the second placed skipper, Armel Le Cléac’h, close to within 89 miles of him. For the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild, who was a few miles ahead of Banque Populaire VIII prior to hitting a UFO with his starboard rudder, the situation is inevitably a little frustrating. Despite this, the solo sailor remains philosophical: “When you make a very silly mistake you know why you’ve lost miles but hereIt’s annoying of course, but once again, all that is part and parcel of the vagaries of racing. You have to suck it up and move forward.”

Change of tack

Since Madeira and the negotiation of a ridge of high pressure that enveloped the Vendée Globe fleet in the very early days of the race, Sébastien Josse has been sailing on port tack, which equates to more than 14 days and over 5,500 miles covered on the same tack. A rare occurrence that underlines the quality of the weather conditions that the solo sailors have enjoyed since leaving Les Sables d’Olonne. Indeed, having made the most of the ‘Brazilian front’, the skipper of Gitana 16 gybed this morning: “I gybed about 1hr ago for strategic reasons,” Sébastien Josse explained by way of an introduction to his radio link-up with the Vendée Live, the 11:00 am daily get-together proposed by the organisers throughout the race. “It’s a big manœuvre, around a good 2 hours if you take into account the time spent restacking the first bag through to stowing away the last line.”

Indian Ocean straight ahead

For several days now, there has been rather a different atmosphere aboard the Mono60 Edmond de Rothschild, but in the space of a few hours, the contrast appears to be more striking: “We’re arriving in the Southern Ocean! We’ve got out some fleeces, but not the thick ones yet! It’s been colder for a few days, but this morning the contrast was more stark. The birds are here; they’re following us and there’s a bit of fog due to the hot air meeting the cold water. The atmosphere is pretty austere! Right now, I have around twenty knots, but it’s shifty as there are squalls that weren’t forecast on the satellite photos. The wind has gone from 28 to 18 knots so it’s not very comfortable. You have to stay on the look-out. I have 1.5 metres of swell. In this part of the world, you usually start to have very choppy, cross seas, but that’s not the case here. The conditions for rounding the cape look mild, but we’re not yet in the Agulhas current.”

The solo sailors are at the gateway to the Deep South. Sébastien Josse is still making headway towards the Cape of Good Hope and in the early hours of tomorrow he’ll leave the Atlantic Ocean in his wake. With nearly 6,900 miles behind her foils, the most recent addition to the Gitana fleet is about to make her entry into the Indian Ocean. This passage occurs at the longitude of Cape Agulhas. Much less famous than its ‘cousin’ Good Hope, the latter is located 140km to its South-East and is the southernmost promontory of the African continent.


Ranking on 24 November at 14:00 GMT

  1. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 17,538.1 miles from the finish
  2. Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire VIII) 89.8 miles behind the leader
  3. Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) 232.1 miles behind the leader
  4. Morgan Lagravière (Safran) 463.5 miles behind the leader
  5. Paul Meilhat (SMA) 750.4 miles behind the leader
  6. Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) 825.0 miles behind the leader
  7. Yann Eliès (Quéguiner Leucémie Espoir) 1,121.4 miles behind the leader
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