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|Vendée Globe underway|
The 2012 Vendée Globe has lived up to expectation, packed with high drama since the fleet departed Les Sables d’Olonne on 10 November.
As the leaders approached assed the Gate of Aiguilles and the Cape of Good Hope, there was just 30 minutes between first placed François Gabart(MACIF) and the third boat, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire); a metaphorical photo finish in a race that covers 24,000 miles. At one stage, a mere 14 miles separated the three leaders in this nail biting edition of the 2012 Vendée Globe.
Armel Le Cléac’h became the new race record holder for the fastest Open 60 from Les Sables d’Olonne to the Cape of Good Hope, clocking a time of 22 days 23 hours 48 minutes and managing to knock an astounding 24 hours 2 hours and 22 minutes off the record set by Vincent Riou in the 2004 edition of the Vendée Globe.
Chasing hot on the heels of the lead pack is British sailor, Alex Thomson, on board HUGO BOSS, whilst Mike Golding on board GAMESA was holding a respectable mid-fleet position as he heads for the Indian Ocean.
With an abnormal concentration of icebergs, around the Kerguelen Islands, race directors informed the skippers that a new gate must now be passed, preventing the fleet heading too far south in search of better winds but instead discovering greater danger.
Unfortunately for the third British competitor, Sam Davies, all hopes of bettering her fourth place finish in the 2008-09 race were shattered when she was force to retire just six days in to the race when her boat Savéol was dismasted, some 400 miles from Cape Verde. Sam is one of seven competitors who has so far retired from the race; 13 skippers continue. For up to date results and rankings see www.vendeeglobe.org
Image: JEAN-MARIE LIOT / DPPI