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Desjoyeaux threatens Paliers lead in Vendee Globe

by Philippe Jeantot on 3 Dec 2000

Two days ago the leaders of the Vendée Globe fleet thought that they might escape the effects of the Saint Helen high pressure system lightly
and reach the low pressure systems circling from the West without slowing down. This is normally the case, but every norm has its exceptions
and here it is no different. It would just take one low pressure system to pass off the coast of Argentina or Brazil to catch the fleet and
effectively take them to the second weather system in a smooth transition.

This year, the Saint Helen anticyclone has deceived the fleet of these regular conditions. The high pressure system has enlarged and spread
over the whole of the Southern Atlantic, as far South as the 40th degree parallel, and is keeping the depressions pushed down.

The problem comes when the high pressure system spreads and empties of wind, which causes the interior to generate micro systems of wind
varying in a rotation of 180 degrees. It loses its own logic at this stage. Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) has paid the heaviest penalty to
the Saint Helen system. He was the first to get caught in these light airs. He is continuing South because he knows the Westerlies are much
lower, that is the exit route. Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) has come back on Parlier dramatically, averaging 10 knots ­ three times more in boat speed
than the leader consistently in the last 12 hours.

The others behind have not found the same progress, as the distance from Desjoyeaux to third placed Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La
Potagere) is now 100 miles. British skipper Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) is in fourth place, pushing out ahead over Catherine Chabaud
(Whirlpool) and the huddle of Open 60¹s just in the rear.

Yves Parlier may not be able to see the exit but he knows it¹s not far away. At 4 knots of speed, his position may well be weak enough right
now for Desjoyeaux to threaten his lead or even for the other skippers to gain substantially if they play the weather right.

Even if the Westerlies are not where expected, the seascape is certainly changing, noted by several skippers in the radio chat. The dark swell
from the South replaces the short waves of the Trades, even the night sky is completely different, with its magical, silvery moon, but now cold
enough for the skippers to start wearing fleeces. Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) and Jourdain have spotted the albatross, guardian of the
entrance to the Southern Ocean. At 36 degrees South and lower in latitude than the Cape of Good Hope, the contestants are certainly in the
grand arena. Their reaction? As Dominique Wavre (UBP) expressed it so clearly : 'Impatience cloaks each day and the sooner we get into the
serious stuff the better.'

Further back, Mike Golding (Team Group 4) has just crossed the Equator and reported in that he has fixed his water-maker and has caught
seven hours of sleep last night, seemingly back on form and sailing South at around 11 knots.

Radio Chat Extracts

Raphaël Dinelli (Sogal Extenso) : 'I am trying to come back up on VM Matériaux & Joé Seeten, and have claimed back a few more miles. I am
taking it easier today as I have some work to do in the keel tackle. I hope I'll be able to climb the mast as well before the 50's. I feel confident and
the boat feels great to me.'

Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée) : 'The Saint Helen high pressure system has enlarged and there is a great swell from the South. It's
all very tranquil. But impatience cloaks each day. The sooner we get into the serious stuff, the better! Yesterday I heard a great boom noise - in
fact it was the boom, which had dropped. Happily, it wasn't serious and all is well now.'

Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) : 'The weather's still beautiful, despite a few rain showers yesterday. I've manoeuvred the boat a lot and fear
that will be my lot tonight as well. After having the spi up for 12 hours, I then changed to staysail with the full main - a senatorial pace. With all
the great weather we're having I'm 10 degrees up on Pete Goss' performance 4 years ago.'

Roland Jourdain ( Sill Matines La Potagère): ' I've seen an albatross. I've also seen two dozen whales in the last 3 days, big ones too. Otherwise
it seems that we are having a final bite of the Doldrums down here as I went a bit further South to reach more wind and yet I was still in light
airs last night. Not as easy to take as before and what's more, it's getting colder.'

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) : 'I worked all night to play the light winds to my advantage. I was hoping to make a comeback in the positions.
I am finding this difficult though as I have lost a lot on the leaders. Now I can admit, as it doesn't matter from here on, that I haven't had a
spinnaker since Madeira! It happened in a squall - the sail caught under the rudder and ripped right in two!'

Pasquale De Grégorio (Wind) : 'I went West up to 25 degrees. I wasn't really close to the wind like that as I don't have a swing keel, which is
why the wind took me Westwards. I know it wasn't the best option - not a tactical one anyway! The wind is 20 - 25 knots and I have 1 reef,
staysail and an edge of genoa up front.'

Javier Sanso (Old Spice) : 'The problem with my water maker is that it's not making water! I boiled salt water and the steam went through a little
tube, and the condensation was fresh water. But this takes too long. At about 0100hrs the wind rose to 25 knots from the ENE and I've been
going at 10 - 14 knots. I changed my way point to 36/37 degrees South and 16 West. With the low pressure just under me I've been eating up
some miles over a couple of days and haven't lost much on the West side.'

Latest Ranking* polled at 0700hrs (UT):

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

1 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 36°14'S 17°15'W 168 4.12 18531 0
2 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 35°42'S 16°57'W 176 8.42 18538 7
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 33°46'S 17°58'W 134 6.18 18648 117
4 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 32°19'S 17°43'W 137 7.51 18693 162
5 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 31°03'S 17°17'W 103 5.82 18721 190
6 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 30°51'S 18°48'W 131 6.64 18790 259
7 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 31°00'S 19°07'W 122 6.75 18798 267
8 Solidaires Thierry Dubois 30°49'S 19°50'W 126 8.12 18833 302
9 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 31°09'S 20°12'W 122 9.5 18834 303
10 EBP - Défi PME - Gartmore Josh Hall 30°09'S 20°21'W 135 9.16 18879 348
11 Voilà.fr Bernard Gallay 29°27'S 23°14'W 146 11 19020 489
12 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde Joe Seeten 28°06'S 23°32'W 144 8.89 19087 556
13 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier 28°17'S 24°17'W 148 10.7 19110 579
14 Sogal Extenso Raphaël Dinelli 26°57'S 24°06'W 150 11.7 19154 623
15 Simone Bianchetti 24°27'S 25°00'W 139 11.6 19290 759
16 Old Spice Javier Sanso 23°07'S 26°42'W 167 10.7 19413 882
17 Wind Pascuale de Gregorio 21°06'S 29°59'W 154 11.4 19629 1098
18 DDP - 60ème Sud Didier Munduteguy 16°59'S 25°43'W 147 8.04 19734 1203
19 Modern University for the Humanities Fedor Konyukhov 05°09'S 29°58'W 189 7.76 20475 1944
20 Team Group 4 Mike Golding 00°43'S 25°58'W 190 10.7 20709 2178

*Ranking ­ A series of waypoints marking a logical route have been used to calculate the rankings. The boat is ranked according to the
waypoint it is near

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