What a foxy Armel Le Cleac’h! Quietly shutting up, he has since the start of the fastest edition of the Vendée Globe (the nonstop solo round-the-world race aboard IMOCA 60s) been trailing Alex Thomson. And while the spotlight was on Hugo Boss, and on the spectacle that the British skipper was able to put on, very fast even without a foil, he stood there behind, but without letting up a mile. All the way to the Cape of Good Hope, he seemed to say to Thomson, “Go ahead, go ahead, take all the honors. But in the meantime I’m here, I’m breathing down your neck, and when the time is right I’ll show you.”
STRUGGLE IN INDIAN, VICTORY IN PACIFIC
In the Indian Ocean, Le Cleac’h, runner-up in the 2008 and 2012 Vendées, teamed up with Thomson, and the two engaged in an ocean-long match race although, at least judging from the images filmed by French TV off the remote Kerguelen Islands, it appeared that Banque Populaire VIII was sailing more conservatively. From Cape Leeuwin onward, Le Cleac’h cranked up the turbo: the Pacific rewarded him; he is now sailing toward Cape Horn taking advantage of a depression (from which Thomson remains outside) with a lead of more than 500 miles. Things have been looking really good for Armel as he prepares to head up the Atlantic as a leader.
CLOSE FIGHT FOR THE PODIUM
The fight to the death has shifted between third and fourth place: Paul Meilhat (pictured) on SMA (1,300 miles from Le Cleac’h) must defend himself from Jérém,ie Beyou on Maitre Coq, who trails him by 30 miles. Beyou can also rely on foils. In fifth place was the good Jean-Pierre Dick, who had taken refuge in Bass Strait to escape the storm and now, in the Pacific, is back in the running.
MEANWHILE, TREES FALL AND BUMP OFNI
Meanwhile, damage ensued among the pursuers: Stephane Le Diraison (skipper of Cie du Lit – Boulogne Billancourt) dismasted while sailing in 35 knots of air. He is fine and and heading for Australia at 4 knots of speed. Even worse damage for Thomas Ruyant, skipper of Le Souffle du Nord pour le projet Imagine: he hit yet another OFNI. The collision caused a waterway and rudder breakage. By motor, Ruyant is heading toward Bluff, the southernmost town in New Zealand.
RUYANT’S VIDEO IN DISTRESS