We are talking about miles over a 24 hour period in the Vendee Globe Race.
Besides the weather routing, wind and options in tactic, superficially I want to analyze the best of the Imoca 60's. Macif and Banque Populaire are the current leaders as they approach the Western side of Australia. The two boats are the latest VPLP/Verdier collaboration in design. Under present condition and for that matter nearly all the time, M and B-P. seem to have an advantage in speed over the rest of the fleet. On the Vendee Globe web site, I gather that M. is the lightest of them all, that both M. and B-P have rotating masts which I consider essential to make a substantial difference in performance. This can explain the small deficit of the close sistership Virpak-Paper who has a conventional standing mast and rigging configuration. From my point of view the drawback of the rotating mast is presented in the form of the fragile and cumbersome outriggers. They have been the cause of problems past and in present circumstances. I think there is a better solution as explained in one of the comment
Now, as the three leaders remain in position as they go up the Atlantic, I regret the absence of Cheminees Poujoulat. I think the boat has potentials and probably would have shone in an upwind battle. I say that because analyzing the various keels as displayed by Tagland, C-P has a larger surface which could have made a difference against the three close sisterships mentioned above. We will not know for a while.
Cheminees Poujoulat. Juan K. Design
Virbac-Paper lost her keel.
One thing that surprised me in the last Volvo Race is apparently the absence of major problems associated with the pivoting keels. It seems that keeping keels in place is still very much an issue with the current and recent Vendee Globe Racers. The fact that the keel is swinging from a single fore and aft bolt with fairing pieces is not easy to solve from an engineering point of view. Jean-Pierre Dick ended up sailing over 2000 miles without a keel. Amazing piece of seamanship associated with a lot of courage. I met J-P once at the Old Armchair sailors Bookstore here in Newport, we had a nice chat.
Macif, winner of the Vendee Globe 2012. VPLP/Verdier Design.