January 10th, 10:00 UTC
The wonderful photo taken from Alex Thomson’s boat seems to want to symbolize how the skipper looks ahead in search of his rival, Armel Le Cléac’h. At this very moment, the lead between the two contenders is little less than 100 nautical miles. In the night, which will finish in an hour for the two skippers, Thomson left about 10 miles to Armel who, at this moment, flies at 10 knots and goes on increasing his lead.
Weather is, in fact, in favour in the North both in terms of wind direction and intensity and, according to weather forecast, the same might happen in the next 24 hours.
Jérémie Beyou, on board Maitre COQ, is the first among pursuers, with a 600-mile lead, equal to two days of navigation.
January 9th, 19:00 UTC
The next 12 hours could prove crucial to the outcome of Vendée Globe, according to the Volvo Ocean Race sailing star Ian Walker. The champion has been literally glued to his computer following the exploits of his friend Alex Thomson’s Ugo Boss, currently locked in an epic battle for the first place with Frenchman Armel Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII.
While the solo round-the-world race enters its final 3,000 nautical miles, Banque Populaire VIII leads Thomson’s Hugo Boss by just 88 miles. After slowing to just two knots yesterday in the depths of the Doldrums, Le Cléac’h was this afternoon back up to speed making 14 knots just prior to the 1400 UTC position report, losing more than 100 miles to Thomson.
Ian Walker continues his analysis claiming that the next 12 hours will be crucial in the sprint to the finish in Les Sables d’Olonne since, if Thomson managed to be out of the Doldrums with a contained lead in half a day of navigation, about 100 miles, nothing would be closed yet.
At this time, Le Cléac’h is certainly the favourite to win but we don’t know the real conditions of both the boats, their sails and eventual damages arisen in these 64 days.
Right now, Banque Populaire VIII has a 5.6 knot VMG after sailing 202 miles during the last 24 hours. Hugo Boss, on the contrary, has a 7.8 knot VMG after 236 miles travelled in the last 24 hours.
These performances seem to suggest a more reduced lead between the two contenders but, you know, all changes in an instant in the ocean.
Stay tuned to see what will the happen in this matter of hours.