Early Thursday morning Banque Populaire was first to break the Crozet ice gate after following a near straight line, more direct course to the west mark of the gate.
but he paid the price for his punchy, direct rhumb line strategy Thursday afternoon as he acceded his lead to the young Macif skipper Francois Gabart. Struggling slowly SE this afternoon Le Cléach’s Banque Populaire was making just five to six knots, giving away a full ten knots of boat speed to Gabart on Macif who had already built a margin of 12 miles during the middle hours of Thursday.
But having profited from the south where they have had better wind pressure Gabart, third placed Jean-Pierre Dick and Bernard Stamm in fourth, now all have to make their own passage back to the north east – into the light airs zone – to satisfy the requirements of the gate.
In contrast Le Cléac’h can continue south east at will where he will accelerate progressively and should be able to recoup these losses which should be only temporary. In fifth Alex Thomson gybed this afternoon on Hugo Boss, having worked south well into the territory of reported ice, and was immediately pulling back miles on the leaders as the fastest IMOCA Open 60 among the five leaders.
There is absolutely no let up in the intensity of the three way mini regatta which engages Mike Golding, Dominique Wavre and Jean Le Cam. British skipper Golding has held the upper hand for four days in this tussle but his choice to stay north, closer to the rhumb line, has cost him against his immediate rivals. While Wavre had passed Le Cam this morning, the French skipper of SynerCiel is fighting back and both had closed on Golding this afternoon.
6 December 2012 18:29 GMT