Alex Thompson tries something different

British Vendee Globe skipper Alex Thomson in fifth, has never fought shy of trying something different. He has taken Hugo Boss south of the leaders’ direct course to try and avoid the worst of what is expected to be a period of lighter winds which could prevail on the approach to the Crozet control gate. Thomson, some 157 miles behind leader Le Cléac’h had only lost a few small miles to the leaders overnight but will hope his lone investment pays off as he passes the gate more towards its eastern extremity.Vendee Globe - Top Ten Rankings Wednesday 5 December 2012, 08:00 hrs (UK)1. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Clac'h 2. MACIF, Francois Gabart, 13 nm to the leader3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick 30 nm 4. Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm 42 nm5. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 157 nm6. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 542 nm7. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 608 nm8. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 623 nm9. Acciona 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sansó, 1320 nm10. AKENA Vérandas, Arnaud Boissières 1643 nm

Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire continues to lead the Vendee Globe. Le Cléac’h has a 12.5 nm lead over François Gabart on MASIF who moves up into second place this morning with Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac-Paprec 3 now in third. And the top four IMOCA Open 60’s are still racing within 50 miles of each other.

The advantage continues to grow for the pace making pack this morning as they reach fast towards to the Crozet ice gate, the second control designed to keep the fleet north of the worst of the ice threat.

For the second group – that is Briton Mike Golding on Gamesa, Jean Le Cam on SynerCiel and Switzerland’s Dominique Wavre – there is a desperate realisation that, despite extreme fatigue brought on by the their toughest 48 hours of the race so far, they must redouble their efforts to stay in touch with the six leaders.

A high pressure ridge was already slowing them early today and they need to find the speed to escape if they are to remain in the same weather system as the pack they are chasing.

Reaching at some 18kts almost directly east towards the target, the Crozet ice gate, Armel Le Cléac’h seems to be on course to reach that waypoint some time Thursday if speeds remain as high as forecast.