After Charlie Dalin (Apivia) took the lead last night this morning, incredibly, there are five boats within 50 nautical miles of each other as the leading group passes Rio de Janeiro in light breezes making between nine and 12 knots. There is still more wind offshore, out to sea.
Dalin, who last led briefly on Christmas Day, is about 100 miles to the east of Bestaven who has dropped to third at about 25 miles behind the new leader.
While Bestaven is bitterly disappointed as evidenced in a video sent last night, perhaps the most satisfied meantime is Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) who is absolutely right back in the match after being over 800 miles behind the leader when he resumed his race at Macquarie Island. The 35 year old skipper from Saint Malo – who is racing the boat which won the last race – is the fastest of the top five on the morning ranking.
And at the same time Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer Yacht Club de Monaco) continues his comeback, faster than Burton over the last 24 hours on his similar VPLP-Verdier design which was built for but did not finish the last Vendée Globe. The German skipper is racing the same line as Damien Seguin (Groupe APICIL) and is less than 40 miles behind him.
As they climb slowly towards the light trade winds, the advantage should be to the boats furthest east, but the South Atlantic convergence zone has proven a definitive barrier to the fleet leaders and Dalin has made the best gains.
“This gate has proven my friend.” Chuckled Dalin this morning, “This transition zone has been hard for Yannick who was first to get into it. Last night I was in a phase where I had breeze and ahead there was less. Every so often I would drop out of the cool breeze into nothing. But this is a magical moment on this Vendée Globe for me. If you had told me four days ago when I was 450 miles behind I would have taken the lead again I would not have believed you. I am happy to be back in business but it is still pretty unsettled, winds are varying in strength and direction.”
Bestaven obviously played his routing carefully and was to a great extent the victim of his timing but further west the wind has been more unsettled and lighter – he made 13 tacks in 36 hours in the corridor of northerly winds.
But the new hierarchy at the front is still fluid. “Nothing is settled,” Dalin interjects, “The wind is not well established in this area where I am and things will still happen until the winds come in more. Around midnight it will be clearer and we will really know this time tomorrow who has done best.”
Meantime during the night Britain’s delighted Pip Hare crossed Cape Horn at 0156hrs, close in to the famous light, she made her first passage of the lonely rock, a key moment of a very impressive race so far. In 17th place she passed just 10hrs and 21 minutes behind Jérémie Beyou with an elapsed time to the Horn of 64 days 12hrs and 36 mins. That gives Hare under 34 days to get to the finish line if she is to break one of her personal targets – the 94 days 04 hrs passage time of Ellen MacArthur when she was second on the 2000-2001 race.