Cutting corners can often come at a price and the cost for the 13 remaining Vendée Globe singlehanders could be a shake-up at the top as the leaders start the next phase and the fourth week.
On Friday afternoon the organisers were still putting Armel le Cleac’h in first place, having turned left early under the St. Helena high pressure system. But two degrees south both Jean-Pierre Dick and François Gabard were picking up the more powerful breezes at the top of the Roaring Forties. Bernard Stamm, although officially 50 miles off, was also poised to execute what motor racing call “the undercut”.
For a while Britain’s Alex Thomson, who had followed the le Cleac’h line, had been credited with being in second place as his rivals went further west and took the more traditional tactic of digging well south before turning east under South Africa.
He needed to keep a metaphorical eye over his shoulder in fifth place as new threats loomed from both Jean le Cam and his British rival Mike Golding, though, in sixth and seventh, they both had many more miles to claw back.
The pick-up in speed saw Gabart notch up what would be when ratified a new world record for an Open 60 singlehander of 482.91 miles in 24 hours, breaking the record set by Alex Thomson in 2003.