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The Vendée Tango

The top five leaders in this year’s running of the Vendée Globe have been dancing back and forth, in and out of the lead position since the fleet passed the tip of South Africa. Currently, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) has only an 8.5-mile lead over the young pup of the fleet, François Gabart (MACIF). "Maybe I’ll see Armel soon; it will depend on the visibility," Gabart noted. "I can see him on my AIS, though. I can even tell you his speed and heading!"

His wish could come true shortly if he’s able to maintain his current record-breaking speeds of 22 knots. This morning, the 29-year-old broke the solo sailing record by hitting 545.3 miles in 24 hours, breaking competitor Jean-Pierre Dick’s 502.9-mile record set just 10 days ago.

In other racer-related news, Marc Guillemot — who retired from the race just a few hours after the start when the keel on Safran fell off — has been fined by the Southampton Magistrates Court for sailing the wrong direction in the busy traffic lanes off the Kent coast on June 6. Guillemot was attempting to break his own record for the fastest sail around the UK and Ireland and refused to comply with Dover Coastguard orders to alter course. As a result, several merchant ships reported altering course to avoid a collision with Safran

Marc Guillemot was fined just over $15,000 for sailing the wrong direction in traffic separation schemes in the UK this summer.

© 2012 Jean Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendée Globe

"The Strait of Dover Traffic Separation Scheme is one of the busiest in the world," said Kaimes Beasley of the Dover Coastguard. "Mr. Guillemot was reckless in his navigation during the hours of darkness not only in the Dover Strait TSS, but also in the Sunk Traffic Separation Scheme. He put his crew and other vessels at significant risk in order to try to beat his previous record."

Guillemot was fined for two incidents, which totaled 28 miles traveled in the wrong direction in two separation schemes. For the June 6 infraction, he was fined £13,000 ($21,000) which was reduced to £8,700 ($14,000) for his guilty plea. The June 7 violation tacked on another £666 ($1,100) to his tab. One has to wonder if his sponsors — and his bank account — felt the stunt was worth it.

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It’s possible we had reason to believe we’d be put on Santa’s ‘Naughty List’ this year but, to our collective relief, he turned a blind eye after having such a festive time on this year’s Baja Ha-Ha.
Are you a new cruiser to Banderas Bay? If so, join us aboard Profligate — or another boat — tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.