The sea receives her own
They say the strength of the wolf is in the pack and the strength of the pack is in the wolf.
As the relentless Southern Ocean makes her presence felt, the rate of attrition steadily rises and we see bigger splits as the fleet is thinned once again.
The drop off in pace and flat seas experiences by the leading duo of Armel Le Cleac'h and Alex Thomson is a stark contrast to the chasing fleet who've suffered at the hands of a brutal series of Indian Ocean lows.
From knock downs for Enda O'Coineen on the Kilcullen Voyager to the hammer blow to Thomas Ruyant's Le Projet Imagine, the Ocean is taking its toll on weary bodies and tired minds. For many, it's a first Christmas en solitaire at sea.
There is a fine line between the level of risk and the quantifiable reward when preparing for a Vendée Globe campaign.
Lightest off the starting line is always the ambition. Though with 2 boats limping to Australia and New Zealand respectively, the minimum amount of fuel required must now be questioned.
Faster & Faster still...
The power to weight ratios of these boats are obscene. That a single handed IMOCA 60 is faster than a fully crewed VO65 on most points of sail is the most accurate barometer.
It's only by the podium that we can truly gauge the latest developments. Reliability rules and it's heartening to see Paul Meilhat remain in the heel of the hunt on his proven steed.
The IMOCA class represent the purest pursuit of speed and the French, particularly through VPLP and Verdier have stolen the march the serial contenders from the Owen Clarke and Farr Yacht Design bureaus. Though all of which matters very little when you've been cleaved by a container 300nm south of New Zealand. We wish Thomas Ruyant a safe passage to Bluff, New Zealand. Never could one be more alone than in the first minutes as the gravity of the situation set in.
For those left, the solitude is offset by a solidarity. The race through the most unwelcoming part of the world continues.
As the Irish say 'faigheann an fharraige a gcuid fhéin' (The sea receives her own) - those left will have their resolve tested and strengthened as they charge for Cape Horn and that eagerly anticipated swing to port.