They call him the Jackal because of his relentless hunting exploits in French sailing races and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) is showing just why this week. After eating away at the lead of Francois Gabart (Macif), Le Cléac’h took it once again as they crossed the East Australia gate.
The two skippers have been almost match-racing each other around the world and they and their teams will care a lot who leads. For Le Cléac’h, the senior of the duo by six years and in his second Vendée after finishing second in the last edition in 2008-09, it is about reasserting his authority.
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) lost ground on the leaders but was making the best speed in the fleet – 20.4 knots in the last hour as he continues his match race with Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) on the longitude of Hobart.
Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), in sixth, has been dealing with rough conditions and 40-knot southwesterlies. But he may be glad of it when he looks behind and sees that a small area of high pressure may block the road for Mike Golding (Gamesa) as he approaches the West Australia gate.
“The thing is just now is that it looks like Jean Le Cam will be able to hold on to the system for two or three more steeds (rankings), I have just run his routing and that’s how it looks,” Golding wrote. “That is frustrating but I can’t do anything about it. I am under full main and Code 3, but at some point I hope there’ll be a payback.”
“Last night was pretty full on at times. I had the boat up to 30 knots on the surfs at one stage but the only trouble is you end up slamming into waves and that’s not good for the boat.”
“But it is starting to feel pretty frustrating because we just never seem to have got going for any length of time. The weather behind is pretty slack. We will just have to look forward to the Pacific.”
Meanwhile Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3), on his own in third, is 250 miles south west of the East Australia gate and in similar position to where the two leaders gybed north yesterday.
Courtesy of www.yachtingworld.com