The Vendee Globe is such a tremendous test of seamanship. It is fascinating to see how the navigation diecisions make such a big diferenece even at the early stages.
As ever, it is about speed versus the most direct route, what sailors call VMG, or velocity made good.
Sébastien Josse, on the British-built BT, was back in the lead at the time of writing, but the first 14 boats are within 70 miles of each other as they race south downwind towards Madeira. Mike Golding, on Ecover 3, was the leading British boat, 57 miles behind. Josse was further east of the fleet, touching the high-pressure system in the Azores, and should be able to gybe before those closer to the coast of Portugal, who are sailing the more direct route.
This video is from the VG site and shows the preparation that is made in terms of thinking through weather systems, loading weather profiles for each region into the onboard laptops, and even designing the hull shapes to take advantage of any prevailing tendencies in the weather systems.