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BEND TO THE LEFT - DEPRESSION AHEAD

by Philippe Jeantot on 1 Dec 2000
In order to avoid the light winds of the Saint Helen high pressure system, the international fleet of the Vendée Globe 2000 has made its rapid descent
of the Southern Atlantic through a very narrow wind corridor between 27° W and 30° W. Right now, the skippers will be watching their barometers,
as the first sign that they are approaching the centre is when the pressure gauge increases. The fleet will be careful to stay at a distance from the
calm airs circling the central zone of the high pressure, and yet will need to find a way past, which means making a fair compromise between heading
and speed. As soon as the boats have got past the heart of the anticyclone in latitude, the winds will swing from North to Northwest.

The 13 boats up ahead opened up a path, which bends to the left as they adapt their route according to the wind shifts. These top boats are in the
Southwest quarter of the system and are thus experiencing a Northwesterly breeze, allowing them to head downwind, swapping between the large
gennaker and assymetric spinnaker.

A small low pressure system is forming at 35° South and 40° West, causing isobars to group together at 30 degrees South. There the wind is
stronger and Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations), the most South and East, is the first skipper to benefit from this. Parlier¹s gradual extension of his
lead over Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), who lies 140 miles behind, shows this, but Desjoyeaux will reach the same winds later on.

This low pressure system is troubling the fleet behind. Dominique Wavre (UBP) expressed the concern that: 'when the leading boats hit the winds
in the low pressure, vroom, off they go! In two days they¹ll have 500 miles advance over us. I¹m doing everything I can to stay in the same weather
system as the others'. On the other hand, British skipper, Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher), consistently in the top five, firmly believes that the cards
could still be shuffled in the next few days, despite Parlier¹s big gain. 'It¹s like we are all in the slip lanes of a motorway, with not much room to
overtake right now, but as we come in to the slow lane, someone will accelerate out in to the first lane and make a gain'.

In heading towards the East, South East (120°), the bows of this leading pack will soon cross the threshold of the 40¹s, where the low pressure
systems spin round the South pole like metro trains. For the moment the conditions are still idyllic in the trades: a bearable heat, blue skies and
steady breeze, with calmer wave undulations under the hull. Only Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear), 2nd in the last Vendée Globe, is finding this route
somewhat frustrating, as he has been plagued by 5 knot winds for 4/5 hours: 'It¹s less exciting when you are behind, not much fun to see Yves &
Desjoyeaux escapingŠ'.

Further back in the fleet, Spanish skipper, Javier Sanso (Old Spice) is aiming for maximum speed South to catch Italian skipper Simone Bianchetti
(Aquarelle.com), who has slipped past him. 'My boat has been a bit slower, she¹s been taking a real pounding. I¹m going to wait until I¹m about 20 -
25° South to go up the mast and check over everything.' Like so many others, he has to take apart his water-maker to get it working again.

British skipper Richard Tolkien (This Time - Argos Soditic), who had been heading North towards Cape Verde in order to re-rig his genoa in calmer
seas, announced officially today his decision to abandon the race. 'I cannot repair the problems by myself, I need outside assistance: a sail-maker
and rigger. I won¹t find them at Cape Verde and so I am pressing on to Las Palmas in the Canaries.' Richard is now the 4th skipper to abandon the
Vendée Globe 2000.

Radio Chat Extracts

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear): 'Last night during 4 - 5 hours it was really bad, only 5 knots of wind! I am going round the high pressure based on
the data I have, on the sat photo and from what I can see. The objective is to reach 30 degrees South. I am not worried about going East, I just want
to go South. I don¹t know what¹s going on for the others, but there¹s wind ahead and not much behind.'

Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère): 'Yesterday I wasn¹t happy with my day, I was sailing with the gennaker when I should have had the
spinnaker, and the spinnaker when I should have had the gennaker! It¹s hard to know the boat perfectly well. We will round the high pressure, it
looks easy on some maps, and complicated on others. I look for a time to gybe, I might have to gybe several times!'

Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux): 'Yesterday evening I read the story of Dinelli druring the last Vendée Globe...the rescue by Pete Goss with the
boat I am sailing on now ...it¹s special ...After reading that, I don¹t really want to go in the Southern Ocean! Menu of the day: little climb up the mast,
it¹s ideal conditions, it¹s calm.'

Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée): 'I am steering a lot and I spending a lot of time on my tactics and on my strategy. Unfortunately, I am
afraid the concertina effect will last a bit longer, the top boats are always increasing their lead. They have more wind than me, and they start to move
South of the high pressure, in a steadier breeze. The top 3-4 boats have gone. It¹s going to be difficult to catch up with them, may be around Tristan
Da Cunha'

Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool): 'Since yesterday I have been trying to have a net meeting with France 2, (National TV channel in France). It¹s
amazing to think they can have live images. Last night I had the gennaker up, I only put the spinnaker this morning. I studied a lot the satellite
photos and wind system from three different sources. I have less wind than Michel but I have never had less than 8-10 knots. I think I managed to
round the high pressure quite well.'

Latest Ranking* polled at 0800hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF*** Miles from leader

1 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 29°48'S 20°30'W 117 14.6 18869 0
2 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 29°24'S 23°37'W 123 11.7 19014 145
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 28°16'S 24°28'W 113 13.1 19090 221
4 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 27°25'S 23°52'W 131 10 19106 237
5 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 27°25'S 25°20'W 120 12.5 19163 294
6 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 26°07'S 25°17'W 139 10.3 19205 336
7 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 26°30'S 26°16'W 143 11.3 19237 368
8 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 26°38'S 27°20'W 134 10 19274 405
9 Solidaires Thierry Dubois 26°01'S 27°19'W 138 10.1 19301 432
10 EBP - Défi PME - Gartmore Josh Hall 24°50'S 26°58'W 163 9.46 19338 469
11 Voilà.fr Bernard Gallay 22°33'S 27°26'W 138 6.33 19453 584
12 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde Joe Seeten 21°24'S 28°06'W 152 9.15 19524 655
13 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier 21°19'S 28°42'W 163 8.89 19552 683
14 Sogal Extenso Raphaël Dinelli 19°40'S 28°07'W 179 9.34 19613 744
15 Aquarelle.com Simone Bianchetti 16°33'S 27°58'W 182 10.5 19766 897
16 Old Spice Javier Sanso 15°00'S 27°43'W 184 8.72 19853 984
18 Wind Pascuale de Gregorio 14°10'S 33°07'W 181 8.37 20076 1207
19 DDP - 60ème Sud Didier Munduteguy 10°29'S 27°51'W 177 6.96 20123 1254
20 Modern University for the Humanities Fedor Konyukhov 01°03'N 28°27'W 198 5.58 20822 1953
21 Team Group 4 Mike Golding 05°26'N 23°36'W 221 4.37 21102 2233

*Ranking ­ A series of waypoints marking a logical route have been used to calculate the rankings. The boa

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