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Swiss sailor takes lead in round-the-world race

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Swiss sailor takes lead in round-the-world race
Bernard Stamm aboard
12:11 CET+01:00
Switzerland's Bernard Stamm has taken the lead for the first time in the solo, round-the-world Vendée Globe race ahead of France's François Gabart, Jean-Pierre Dick and Armel Le Cleac'h, organizers said on Friday.

Stamm took pole position in the southern Indian Ocean after Le Cleac'h, who had held the lead for much of the last 18 days, paid the price for trying to
cut off an anticyclone near the Crozet "ice gate".
The Swiss skipper was the first to pass the virtual marker post on Thursday morning and the first to meet gentle winds -- those slower than 10 knots.

At 2am GMT on Friday, he was sailing at no more than 4.6 knots while Stamm (15.5 knots), Gabart (14.3 knots) and Dick (13.4 knots) were travelling nearly three times faster and more southward, buoyed by more sustained wind.

Le Cleac'h dropped to fourth overall and those in his wake chose to delay heading through the gentle wind zone, crossing their fingers that it will disappear when they head northward to pass Crozet.

Stamm's performance in his third Vendée Globe is remarkable given that his boat Cheminées Poujoulat is the most powerful of the fleet but also the most demanding physically.

The 49-year-old, who is based in the Brittany region of northwest France, has a glittering record in world sailing, having twice won the Vélux 5 Oceans in 2002/3 and 2006/7 and is experienced in the Southern Ocean.

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