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Vendee Globe - Back to normal??

by Philippe Jeantot on 17 Dec 2000
The low pressures system which usually turns around the Atlantic ocean
struggle to get organised. The competitors are arriving in the middle of the

Indian ocean and despite some squalls up to 50/60 knots, the sailors hadn¹t
yet met the big swell. The small lows raised a relatively short sea but wer

not following each other. After three Œnormal¹ depressions everything was
back as usual. Now there is a long swell again. Marc Thiercelin ( Active
Wear) was the first one to tell us about it : 'It¹s the first time really
that the sea is so big. There are some very big waves even if last night we
had a maximum of 45 knots. Yesterday in a very big gust I couldn¹t hold the
boat and I stayed 15 minutes with the sails flapping, nothing broke but I
decided to slow down!

It¹s really cold now and it¹s getting much harder. Bodies, especially the
fingers, are numbed so the manoeuvres take more time and are more dangerous

When the sea is warmer you are not afraid of taking a wave in the face. Wit

a water at 4°, one pays a little more attention not to be wet, especially
when it¹s so hard to dry the clothes. Many sailors try to limit the numbers
of manoeuvres.

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) is still sailing his own course : « Bilou is 100
miles behind. It¹s quite comfortable ». and he is not worried by Yves
Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) who has done a fantastic come back, reducin

the gap by 140 miles in one day: « For sure he is pushing his boat very har

and well, but we are in different weather systems, he¹s got more wind so he
is faster. Then it will be my turn to have good conditions, and I hope that
I will be able to build up more miles between myself and the others.». For
the leader the strategy is simple : « I need to be in good position with th

low pressures and to sail the boat at its best, without breaking. »

Raphaël Dinelli (Sogal Extenso), who stopped in Cape Town at the beginning
of the week, has finished to repair his keel. He should leave again in the
afternoon. As he has received some assistance, he is disqualified but he ha

decided to finish the course and to come back to Les Sables d¹Olonne. We
will still follow his boat with the Argos beacons to ensure his safety but
as it is written in the rules of theVendée Globe we will not communicate
with him any more to make the difference between the skippers still racing
and the others.

Radio Chat Extracts

Josh Hall (EBP - Gartmore Esprit PME)

'Today the sky is clear, sunny. Wind from the South South West, 30-35 knots

In the next hours I will decide whether I will pass North or South of the
Kerguelen Islands. It will depend on the wind. After the Kerguelen, I think
I will stay at 45° - 50° South, may be more. I will try to remain within th

group but also choose my own route. After the Horn, I will put the pressure
on the others, I would like to pass the cape during the first week of
January... but I am an optimistic person....'!

Patrice Carpentier (VM Materiaux)

'It¹s going fast, but well. I ate some mash potatoes and fish, some
¹saucisson¹, drank a coffee and after that my first cigare of the day. I a

going at 13 knots. I have a North North West wind blowing at 30/35 knots.
It¹s raining and the visibility is really poor... Yesterday I had a quick
chat with Bernard Gallay. He was ok. Well, I have to leave you and go to
work .... well... sleep!'

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB)

'This morning there is plenty of krill on the deck, a whale would have been
happy to have her breakfast on deck!
We don¹t have the same wind speed as Yves (Parlier) at all. He has 35 - 40
knots, which match his current speed. As soon as the low pressure goes ahea

we will start again then it will be their turn to be next to the ridge and
to be slow as well. It¹s an accordion game and we are going to play for
quite a long time! In the Atlantic we pushed the boat very hard but the sea
and the air temperature were still ok. Now we are less keen to go and be
silly on the foredeck. The average speeds are less high. Myself I don¹t fee

like pushing my boat. Now Bilou is 100 miles behind and it¹s better! When h

was just 30/40 I was worried. We are exactly at the same place and time as
Christophe (Auguin, record holder)was four years ago! We have the right pac

to come back to Les Sables D¹Olonne'

Didier Munduteguy (DDP 60° Sud)

« There are lots of birds. The albatros are landing, it¹s amazing, I though

they were flying all the time and I was surprised to see them land on the
water by 15 knots of wind . They are nice friends. Sometimes I need fight
myself not to spend too much time contemplating. I start to feel that we ar

very far. It¹s been 36 days at sea, it¹s a long journey, but it¹s wonderful
even if it is stressful as we are far from everything. »

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) :
« We are in different weather systems now! You need to push so much to
retrieve 20/30 milles and you have no idea how it¹s going to end up. Will w

be able to be in the lead again? I don¹t know. They can control us. With
500-600 miles of lead, 2 days, it¹s comfortable. It can be possible
depending on the weather. In the South I still have some hope like when we
will pass south of Australia. And they can do some mistakes as well. »

Latest Ranking* polled at 1100hrs (UT):

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

1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 46°22'S 80°21'E 73 13.1 14391
2 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 46°42'S 77°48'E
78 13 14476 85
3 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 47°23'S 74°14'E 67
17.5 14596 205
4 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 47°10'S 70°34'E 72
14.7 14737 346
5 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 47°46'S 70°10'E 109 16.7
14752 361
6 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 46°53'S 70°11'E 105 16.7
14765 374
7 Solidaires Thierry Dubois 50°28'S 68°13'E 97 14 1482

8 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 47°14'S 66°45'E 104
13.4 14891 500
9 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 50°05'S 66°09'E 98 14.5
14893 502
10 EBP - Défi PME - Gartmore Josh Hall 47°56'S 63°37'E 103
11.5 15006 615
11 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier 47°57'S 51°50'E 100
14.7 15496 1105
12 Voilà.fr Bernard Gallay 46°41'S 51°59'E 87 16 15497
13 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde Joe Seeten 47°03'S
46°45'E 76 10.6 15701 1310
14 Simone Bianchetti 43°46'S 39°29'E 77 7.0

16035 1644
15 Team Group 4 Mike Golding 48°43'S 24°13'E 93 14.2
16577 2186
16 Old Spice Javier Sanso 42°47'S 28°01'E 103 9.33
16598 2207
17 Wind Pascuale de Gregorio 43°57'S 25°38'E 90 11
16611 2220
18 DDP - 60ème Sud Didier Munduteguy 41°53'S 10°24'E 126
8.95 17229 2838
19 Modern University for the Humanities Fedor Konyukhov 34°52'S
15°45'W 167 3.17 18518 4127

*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
nearest to.

**Average Speed - this is an instantaneous reading

***DTF (Distance to finish) - This is worked out in comparison to the
logical route

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