The sun has set in Les Sables d’Olonne. Everything’s in place to give the winner of the Vendée Globe 2012-2013 the welcome he deserves. He’s expected to cross the finish tomorrow morning from 1000 hours local time. Aboard MACIF, François Gabart is belting along towards a seemingly victorious finish, in what everyone, and the IMOCA skippers in particular, considers to be the Holy Grail of solo offshore racing. Some 285 miles offshore of Les Sables d’Olonne, the future prize-winner precedes Armel Le Cléac’h by around a hundred miles this evening.
Before that, there is one last night of solitude to go and it promises to be highly stressful for the two competitors. Heavy shipping in the Bay of Biscay, heavy seas over the shallows created by the continental shelf and 30 knots of breeze, will certainly be enough to pile the pressure on the sailors, who aren’t likely to get much shut-eye.
Due to the sea state forecast tomorrow off Les Sables d’Olonne, an order of the prefect is prohibiting all boats from heading out to sea from 0700 hours in the morning, with the exception of those boats associated with race organisation. Latest estimates are announcing the arrival of François Gabart and MACIF between 10 and 1100 hours...
These unforgettable moments will receive wide coverage on the television (see previous article) and on the internet (the Vendée Globe’s official website).
At sea, solidarity is in operation
Today was also marked by the fabulous gesture of support from Briton Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), who offered to play escort to Jean-Pierre Dick, the latter currently making headway aboard a boat without a keel near the Azores, so as the Frenchman could safely negotiate a depression rolling across the zone. In his battle for third place in the Vendée Globe, Alex put the competition on hold and decided to modify his course so as to support and, if need be, provide assistance to his comrade-in-arms aboard Virbac-Paprec 3.