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that I know the fi ght in the South will be completely different this year. The bar will be very high and I would have loved to be part of that fi ght. A game that I would have died to be part of!” 26 November, Day 16, 19,799.5 miles

from the fi nish: For safety reasons race organizers force racers to sail between two waypoints, known as ice gates. This is to keep the competitors away from ice and a possible disaster. The fi rst South Atlantic gate was shifted one degree north and seven degrees east to avoid excessive concentra- tions of ice.

27 November, 19,571.8 miles from

Bernard Stamm's CHEMINEES POUJOULAT was disqualifi ed for receiving assistance. to be the lightest at 7.5 tonnes.

Riou was 550 miles east of Brazil and will need to make his repairs at sea. The damage to the hull was a problem, but he also discovered that there was damage to the starboard shroud under the outrigger. He sent photos to his team and designer to see what he could to make repairs. 25 November: Jean Pierre Dick is now second after jumping by François Gabart, (MACIF) during the night. He covered 340 miles, doing an average of 14 knots this morning. There was now just 50.6 miles between him and the race leader, Armel Le Cléac’h.

Due to the damage sustained, Riou re- tired from the race. He could make the hull repairs, but the damage to the shroud was impossible to fi x under the circumstances.

the fi nish: Jean-Pierre Dick’s (VIRBAC PAPREC 3) decided to go further south and this allowed Alex Thomson (HUGO BOSS) to slide into third place. Just 33 miles back is Bernard Stamm (CHEMINÉES POUJO- ULAT).

The decision was based on whether the boat would survive the Southern Ocean. He was now sailing from Salvador de Bahia, which he should reach in three days. This made the seventh racer to drop out and now just 13 boats are still racing.

“It was such a tough decision,” said

Riou, “but it’s also the most reasonable one. I had had this goal, the Vendée Globe, in mind for years and I spent so much energy on this project. I’m terribly disappointed, and I’m also thinking of my partners, PRB of course, but also Bouyer Leroux and Mercedes. PRB has been supporting me for ten years, they’ve trusted me. Even though what happened, the collision and the dam- age to the boat, is not my fault, I can’t help feeling guilty. I felt really good in the race, our boats have such an impressive potential


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miles behind Armel Le Cléac’h (BANQUE POPULAIRE), who is still leading. The problem for the leaders is the fi ckle winds off the coast of Argentina. 28 November, 760 miles to Gough

Island, the fi rst gate: It is now time to see whose strategy was going to pay off. French sailing legend Alan Gautier, ex- plained the position on the web TV show, Vendée Globe LIVE saying, “The skippers have been thinking hard for three days now, looking for the right strategy. Jean-Pierre Dick (VIRBAC PAPREC 3) and the “West Group” (François Gabart (MACIF) and Jean Le Cam (SYNERCIEL) are doing all right, maybe better than Armel Le Cléac’h (BAN- QUE POPULAIRE) in the end, but it’s easy to say that now. When they actually made their choices, things weren’t that obvious. The next few days will be very exciting for the sailing enthusiasts who follow the

Vendée Globe, because there’s a big group that will enter the South together.” It was thought that the West Group of Jean-Pierre Dick, François Gabart and Jean Le Cam might edge to the front. The weath- er models are showing the advantage with them.

29 November, 19,194.7 miles from the

fi nish: Armel Le Cléac’h was still holding on to his lead, despite the light winds. Some behind him were coming from a more south- erly direction and were beginning to accel- erate ahead of the front of the depression off of Argentina.

In second was Alex Thomson 147 miles back. Bernard Stamm was celebrating his 49th

fourth place.

François Gabart and Jean-Pierre Dick were in the best position and were averaging 17 knots. However the temperatures were getting colder as they headed further south. “The air is cooled. I took a shower late yes- terday afternoon and put on a new set of sub layers. I have a feeling that I will not remove them any time soon,” said Gabart. 30 November, 19,226 miles from the

fi nish: Strategy was paying off for François Gabart who was just 20 miles behind the leader.

Behind the top three (Armel Le Cléac’h, Jean-Pierre Dick and François Gabart), fi ve hungry hunters (Bernard Stamm, Alex Thomson, Jean Le Cam, Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre) are also bearing down on the front trio at 17 knots.

On a port tack, with a steady wind, between 17-20 knots the IMOCA fl eet were sailing with good speed towards the Gate of Aiguilles, around 1200 miles away, and are expected to arrive there in less than four days.

30 November: Gabart covered 482.91 birthday 194 miles behind the leader in

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