The dice has been rolled this morning by the leading sailors in The Vendee Globe. British sailor Alex Thomson has once again turned his back on the perceived best wisdom of the french sailors and is pushing on south as they head sharply west in search of the best route.
Looking at the current predictions Alex is clearly driving straight south as he believes he can scrape through a narrow window before the door slams shut behind him.
He will sail a shorter route, be more upwind, and meet the fresh southeasterly breeze first.
The other sailors will be sailing further, could still be hampered by light winds and will be hard on the wind for longer before they are freed again.
At these speeds there is decision to be made every day and now we have got to one that could have considerable impact on the rest of the race as vast gains can be made. It is also a dangerous time as the boats slow down and could then be hit by huge squalls with high wind and torrential rain. If the skipper is not totally aware then the sails or rigging can get damaged. In these conditions a sailor of Thomson’s calibre will spend a lot of time on deck hand steering and trimming to keep the boat moving.
By the end of the day there will be a clearer picture of what is happening.
If you want to check the weather models for the doldrums Predict Wind a excellent free service as well as their excellent paid for forecast predictions.