Vendee Globe - All together now

Since Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) passed into the Pacific Ocean this morning at 05:10hrs all 13 Vendée Globe skippers have been racing in the same ocean. But it will be for one day only as leaders Francois Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) should ‘exit stage left’ passing the mythical Cape Horn late this afternoon to start their long ascent up the Atlantic towards the finish of this Vendée Globe.

Vendée Globe Race Direction and CLS send daily reports to the skippers to keep them informed of the progression of ice in the Cape Horn area. Today François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac’h, the two race leaders, will be directly dealing with these dangerous conditions that are evolving. Here is what the situation was like on December 31…

"The big iceberg (100m high and 200m wide) which was stranded on Diego Ramirez Island has broken apart. « In that precise zone, the ocean bottom is at less than 200m while the sea is 1,000m deep everywhere around," explains CLS’s Louis Mesnier.

"We detected that iceberg on December 21 and the Chilean MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) located it on December 27. The radar image is now showing it has dislocated and spread over three kilometers. We recommend skippers stay away from the entire area located down wind current northwest of the iceberg’s initial position and we’ve informed the sailors. We’re not sure what the size of the ice blocks is but we know they could very well drift all the way to the Ile des Etatsand the Maire Straits ."

"What we do know, says Mesnier, is that there’s at least one other large 400-metre iceberg in the same zone. It is north of the other and it will probably get stranded in the Birdwood Bank shoal area, near the Falkland Islands. There’s nothing unusual about that situation but it will definitely have an impact on the race. We think these icebergs detected near Cape Horn are actually the ones we had observed near the East Australia gate in October. This group of ice blocks has drifted at the speed of 17 nautical miles a day."

There’s something fascinating about seeing icebergs. But for the Vendée Globe skippers, there’s nothing scarier than having to sail through an area scattered with ice. François et Armel will have to be extremely careful.

Vendee Globe - Top Ten Rankings Tuesday, 1 January 2013, 09:00 hrs (UK)
1. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Clac'h
2. Macif, François Gabart, 38 nm to the leader
3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick 490 nm
4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 984 nm
5. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 2089 nm
6. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 2555 nm
7. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 2615 nm
8. Acciona 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sansó, 2668 nm
9. AKENA Vérandas, Arnaud Boissières, 2806 nm
10. Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm, 2812 nm