VIDEO: Vendée verve - Soundings Online

VIDEO: Vendée verve

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The solo sailors in the Vendée Globe continue their non-stop sprint around the globe, with the race leaders rounding Cape Horn on Day 51 of what is considered the world’s toughest yacht race.

After passing Cape Horn Tuesday night just an hour and 15 minutes apart, race leaders François Gabart and Armel Le Cléac’h chose to exit the worst of the ice danger zone by passing through the Le Maire Strait, jibing through the 16-mile-wide gap between Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island.

In third place, Jean-Pierre Dick rounded Cape Horn on Wednesday night.

Le Cléac’h described the stress of passing the Horn in low visibility with the ever-present threat of ice.

“When we have all this ice around it makes it much more difficult. We have 150 complicated miles with icebergs on the course,” he wrote on his race log. “And when night comes it will be more difficult. Once we are past Staten Island we will be back to simpler sailing conditions.”

Click play for video of Day 52 of the 2012-13 Vendée Globe.

The Vendée Globe course takes the sailors eastward around the world via the three major capes: the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn. Twenty sailors started the race Nov. 10 in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. The fleet had been narrowed to 13 as 2013 dawned.

Then on Wednesday, Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm was informed that he had been disqualified for receiving outside assistance when his anchor dragged during a Dec. 23 stop to make repairs in New Zealand’s remote Auckland Islands.

After anchoring in Sandy Bay at Enderby Island in difficult conditions, Stamm awoke to find that a Russian scientific ship had anchored close to him. Realizing that his anchor was dragging and that he was drifting toward the ship, Stamm contacted the captain by VHF and asked if he could lie alongside. After preparing for the move, he came back on deck to find a Russian crewman aboard.

“I was running everywhere on the boat, trying to switch on everything. When I came out, there was someone trying to pull up the anchor. I did not even have time to tell him to get off my boat, especially since we were dragging,” Stamm said. “I finished pulling back up the anchor, and he fastened the line to his boat. Any sailor in the world would have done the same thing, and it happened so fast that I did not think what is specified in the rules.”

Stamm was disqualified under the race’s “no outside assistance” rule. He is the first skipper in the race to be disqualified by a jury decision. Stamm is hoping to have his case reconsidered by the five-person international jury.

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