Gabart regains lead in Vendee Globe yacht race
PARIS (AFP) –
Frenchman Francois Gabart regained the lead in the round-the-world Vendee Globe race early Saturday, edging ahead of Swiss Bernard Stamm, who had moved to the front for the first time the previous day.
At 0400 GMT, Gabart was narrowly ahead of countryman Jean-Pierre Dick with Stamm in third and longtime leader Armel Le Cleach’h, also of France, in fourth.
Four of the first five boats had emerged into light winds from out of the Crozet “ice-gate” in the southern Indian Ocean, with Le Cleach’h charting a course further to the south.
He was benefiting from better wind conditions and was well-placed to climb back up the race standings lead later in the day.
Stamm had taken pole position on Friday after Le Cleac’h, who had held the lead for over two weeks, paid the price for trying to cut off an anticyclone near the Crozet “ice gate”.
The Swiss sailor’s performance in his third Vendee Globe was remarkable given that his boat Cheminees Poujoulat is the most powerful of the fleet but also the most demanding physically.
The 49-year-old, who is based in the Brittany region of northwest France, has a glittering record in world sailing, having twice won the Velux 5 Oceans in 2002/3 and 2006/7 and is experienced in the Southern Ocean.
In all 13 boats remain in the hunt for sailing’s toughest test 28 days after the 2012-2013 ocean epic set off from the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne.
Seven boats have pulled out, including the only woman skipper in the race, Britain’s Samantha Davies, who came fourth in the last edition two years ago.
Standings at 0400 GMT Saturday
1. François Gabart (FRA/Macif) 16,456.6 nautical miles from the finish
2. Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA/Virbac-Paprec 3) at 13.8 miles
3. Bernard Stamm (SUI/Cheminées Poujoulat) at 36.6
4. Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA/Banque Populaire) at 50.7
5. Alex Thomson (GBR/Hugo Boss) at 55.9
6. Mike Golding (GBR/Gamesa) at 470.3
7. Jean Le Cam (FRA/SynerCiel) at 494.2
8. Dominique Wavre (SUI/Mirabaud) à 677,6 at 514.8
9. Javier Sanso (ESP/Acciona) at 1,247.5
10. Arnaud Boissières (FRA/Akena Vérandas) at 1,458.6