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Vendee Globe Update - Golding may catch fleet

by Philippe Jeantot on 2 Dec 2000
But as far as weather forecasting nothing is never sure. The system, a school case, hasn¹t developed like it should have had.

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) who is leading the race since the Equator, is opening the route like a scout boy and is suffering from it : «I dove South because we're in a complex system and I can't see any way out. I stayed between 1 - 4 knots in really light airs last night. I think I'll get into the Westerlies in 36 hours and head off with a low pressure system towards the Southern latitudes, but there's a tight high pressure system sitting in the middle of all that. Right now I'm ahead by one day in terms of a 99 day circumnavigation.».

As the leading boats are slowing down they should soon catch each other and reform a group. Each skipper knows he must pass the last gateway of the Atlantic Ocean. It¹s time to concentrate. The first one who will have the privilege to touch the Westerly winds will leave the others very quickly. Yves Parlier and Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) were confirming this to us during the radio chat this morning. For both of them the daily routine is busy : manoeuvres, trimming and long hours above the chart table to find the right answer. The race can be played in the next two days. Behind, Jourdain, Chabaud, MacArthur, Coville, Thiercelin, Wavre and Dubois have also understood the situation and push themselves and their boats to the edge.

The strong pace they have been following since the start of the Vendée Globe worries some of the competitors. After 22 days of racing, the wind has never been violent, but the boats have been sailed to their limits. Nobody wants to give up as to preserve their chances of winning.

Now just as they are arriving in the roaring forties, there are 460 miles between the leader of the fleet and the 10th boat. This gap is already quite important but with luck (or not !) it could decrease and redistribute the cards.

Yves Parlier has set the pace and doesn¹t want to take it easier in the Southern Ocean : « Four years ago, Christophe Auguin was let alone fter everybody else had broken. He just had to control the race. This year we are all very close to each other, we must fight all the time. If the others break, I will calm the game down. Not before».

Ladies and Gentlemen, you have been warned Yves Parlier has spoken. The battle will be hard. The second part of the fleet is still sailing along the high pressure. The steady breeze offer them amazing nights under the moon and the stars. The magic of the southern hemisphere.

Radio Chat Extracts

Thomas Coville (Sodébo): 'It's going to be hard to come back on the leading boats. They positioned themselves well after the Doldrums and have reached the wind before us, plus there is a little ridge behind us too. I went up the mast - it's easier with hardly any rigging on it. Nothing chafed or weakened as far as I could see - a big plus point there. I tried but failed to make a gybe South unlike Dominique and Dubois - the future will tell if it paid off!

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB): 'I have come back in terms of distance to go because Yves has gone off on starboard and dove South too early. I'm content not to have done the same as he has inevitably slowed down. He must be doing 9 knots average against my average of 11.2, so I did okay not to gybe too early. Looking back, no-one has tried to dive South. I'm surprised that they aren't going faster than us on average.'

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher): 'I was gybing Southwards over night but now I am heading Eastwards on a more favorable tack according to the goal. For now my speed is good and the heading is better so I can't be unhappy with that. We're ready, and eager to get on down there, but anxiety has set in because this time it's like a transat ­ cum - round the world race, not the usual pace of a Vendée Globe.'

Didier Munduteguy (DDP/60 South): 'Every mile I sail is new to me. I have never sailed in these latitudes and I try to understand what is
happening. The sea is very different in the trades from what I was expecting, I thought it would be more regular. The squalls also are different,
there is more rain. I gave myself thirty days to go down the Atlantic ocean and to arrive at 40 degrees.'

Joé Seeten (Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du monde): 'I am passing in the middle of two cloud masses, on the left is the Saint Helen
anticyclone, on the right is a small low pressure system. Since the Bay of Biscay, I have been on Port tack, only gybing once in the Doldrums
but only for 15 miles. Last night the alarm clock went off every 20 minutes so as not to get stuck in the calms.'

Simone Bianchetti ( 'All is well, the wind is more stable, my descent has been good and I've managed to get a little East. I have
started to prepare for the South. Not a great deal of time to do this but now I have to maintain a good course and safely. My boat & I are in
perfect harmony - she's French and I'm Italian but we understand each other now!'

Bernard Gallay ( 'At around 0530hrs this morning, the wind stabilised and I could stay on my desired heading. The boat is advancing
at 12 - 16 knots now. This should help me get back some miles on the others. Yesterday I got through a lot of jobs. I climbed to the top of the
mast to install an independent halyard from the other two in case the others break.'

Josh Hall (EBP - Gartmore): 'The wind changes every 40 minutes by 30 - 40 degrees. I've had the spinnaker up, then the gennaker, the boats
going okay, 12 knots, and I'm up with the main fleet still. The high pressure system is next to us and the wind should be to the NE at the
weekend. It's hard to gain miles in this close group as we are all going at the same speed but I'm confident that I'll gain some miles and places in
a few days.'

Mike Golding (Team Group 4): 'I¹m heading due South at 10 knots. Some cloud around but the wind's more solid, so I've got 1 reef in. It's a
good sign that I'm clear of the Doldrums. The last 4/5 days were tough, not very rewarding as I've been buried in fixing problems that have
cropped up, the biggest of which was my water-maker.'

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) : 'I dove South because we're in a complex system and I can't see any way out. I stayed between 1 - 4
knots in really light airs last night. I think I'll get into the Westerlies in 36 hours and head off with a low pressure system towards the Southern
latitudes, but there's a tight high pressure system sitting in the middle of all that. Right now I'm ahead by one day in terms of a 99 day

Fedor Konyoukhov (MUH) by email: 'Dear friends, I crossed the Equator - 7th time in my life. I am pleased that all crossing I done by the sails.
Now we are in Southern hemisphere. All is different here: unusual clouds, new stars, different season, a mystic place for me. I am monitoring my
right rudder, no water coming so far. But I will be nervous about this until the finish. Normally, I have to take the boat out from the water, take
out the rudder, make a new fixation and bearings. All this possible in every port, but I will be out of the race. So, I stratified the fixation with
metallic rings, put some fibre glass and epoxy, dried it with electric chafage and I prepared my self to pump the water during all the race if it's

Latest Ranking* polled at 0830hrs (UT):

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

1 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 33°33'S 18°21'W 173 11.5 18658 0
2 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 32°04'S 18°39'W 111 11.9 18726 68
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 32°01'S 21°49'W 109 12 18857 199
4 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 29°36'S 20°19'W 125 9.89 18884 226
5 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 30°02'S 20°56'W 114

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