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Vendee Globe Lead Changes-Pack nearing Australian Longitudes

by Philippe Jeantot on 23 Dec 2000
Despite the weather system being classical, with some low pressure centers following each others, with some fronts and ridges in between, it
can sometimes be surprising.

When Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) passed the ridge he was slower than Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère) who was two degrees further
South. At the last Argos position, Bilou caught the wind from the new low pressure earlier than his fellow competitor who was still a bit more in
the North East in the calms conditions of the ridge.

The difference was brutal and changed the previous leadership. The Breton sailor, nicknamed « Bilou », who had to come back to Les Sables
d¹Olonne a few hours after the start had done an amazing come back. When he passed the Canaries, he had joined the first group of boats
already. Then he stayed on the look out, doing a conservative race in the leader¹s weak. The hundred miles gap he still had a few days ago
never stopped to reduce and today favoured by a good weather option further South than the others, he managed to climb to the first place. A
very good course since the start: « It¹s a good surprise. It¹s my first day in the lead of the Vendée Globe. I hope it¹s going to last. But we are
just half-way and it doesn¹t mean much. And I¹m not sure it¹s always good to be ahead here, unless you have 600 miles lead. »

To Thomas Coville (Sodebo, savourons la vie) life hasn¹t been so kind. The repair he did on his tiller axis after a collision with a whale has
broken. It was nearly impossible for him to control Sodebo, and as he was sleeping the boat did a bearing off and broke the gennaker tack. As
the gennaker was floating violently in 25 knots of wind, just hold with the head and the clew, Thomas had to run to the mast and try to sort the
mess. During the manoeuvre, the halyard got wound around his left hand, burning the back of the hand, but worse, dislocating his thumb. The
finger didn¹t come back straight away but, with the help and good advice from the French doctor Jean-Yves Chauve, Thomas managed to put it
back vertically (see the doctor¹s « Health revue» on the race web site) : « I am a little bit softyŠ but I have never suffered so much in my life ».
After what happened, Thomas was feeling depressed and during the radio chat this morning he confessed his morale was low: « I am still
paying the consequences of this collision with this whale and each time I have come back in the race after fighting hard, all I do is for nothing.
Ellen took me 60 miles and now she is ahead of me. I have to admit I am nearly K.O. ».

For Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée), things are going well. The Swiss skipper is preparing Christmas. He has a tiny Christmas tree
and some tinsel garlands to embellish a bit the atmosphere inside his boat. We will tell you how each skipper is preparing this festive season,
alone, in the largest desert of the world.

Radio Chat Extracts

Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère)
'Apparently I am leading the race now! I am not going to complain, it¹s a good surprise. It¹s really nice it¹s the first day I am leading the Vendée
Globe, I hope it is going to last! But I must not try to be too clever, I need to be careful. Small problem can lead to big ones. I am very happy
with my first half-way round the world - as we should soon be half-way...
My lovely sponsor has prepared a fantastic Christmas dinner, I think I¹ve seen a few present as well. But it¹s a 'single-handed' Christmas in
my little corner! not near the Christmas tree at home with the children around! I prefer to celebrate the fact that we are half-way, I¹d rather be
with my wife an my children. My Christmas present for me is going round the world, and I am unwrapping it little by little.'

Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée)
'I saw that MichDesj has slowed down a lot but the situation above is affected by a low pressure stucked in the South of Australia. When the
ridge passed, I was in the North and I lost a lot compared to the ones who were a bit more in the south. I don¹t feel like we have started the
serious stuff and the Indian Ocean has been kind to us apart to Yves. They are the kindest 40th and 50th I have ever met. It would be fantastic
if we all arrive at the Cape Horn without any problem...
For Christmas, Michèle (Michèle Paret, his wife) has prepared a Christmas tree and some presents. I will have a little party if I can. It¹s a family
thing so it¹s a bit strange to be alone. I think I will have a good dinner!'

THE WORDS

Thomas Coville (Sodebo)
'I didn¹t see it at the beginning but now I can review what happened. The repair I had done on my rudder when I hit a whale broke. Yesterday I
decided to reduce the sail area, I took three reefs and put a small gennaker at the front, I didn¹t want to go too North. I went to sleep a little
while and when I woke up the boat had bear off . The gennaker tack had broken, and it was hold by the clew and the halyard. It was flapping
very violently. It was hard to get it back onboard. There was 30 knots. The gennaker was stuck on the mast, I ran to the winch on the mast,
eased the halyard, it was really violent and as I tried to be fast my hand got stuck with the gennaker halyard and took my finger backwards. It
didn¹t hurt much at the time
I need to re-repair but I haven¹t got much carbon left. I went back inside the boat and I had a strange taste in the mouth - just like after a long
sprint. I tried to change clothes but it was impossible. I felt a very strong pain in my finger and in my hand, I couldn¹t move anymore.
This morning at 6 am we did the diagnostic: I have dislocated my left hand thumb and burnt the skin on top. And I was more annoyed to see
that my repair didn¹t last long. But my thumb started to hurt a lot, and I have rarely suffered so much.
I called Jean-Yves Chauve and decided to use his solution as I wasn¹t bearable anymore. He said I should put the finger back vertically, he told
be to take some sedative and pain killers before but I didn¹t notice any difference. It hurt so much. I have never had any pain like this in my life!

Now I can stay I managed to put it back, I didn¹t know how to do it. It took me half an hour to touch it and I was crying. And now, the pain is
less important but I am feeling a bit stone with all the medication.'

Latest Ranking* polled at XXX0hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF*** Miles from leader
1 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 49°20'S 125°02'E 102 15.6 12767 0
2 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 47°30'S 126°46'E 106 14.9 12794 27
3 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 53°46'S 116°27'E 120 15.5 12952 185
4 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 52°12'S 115°51'E 124 11.5 13012 245
5 Solidaires Thierry Dubois 53°34'S 110°37'E 124 12.7 13155 388
6 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 48°22'S 113°23'E 109 16.6 13204 437
7 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 51°22'S 106°50'E 81 14.4 13327 560
8 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 49°56'S 106°22'E 133 10 13380 613
9 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 48°36'S 102°49'E 83 6.9 13536 769
10 EBP - Défi PME - Gartmore Josh Hall 46°59'S 100°13'E 66 14.3 13679 912
11 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier 47°12'S 94°20'E 127 11.5 13885 1118
12 Voilà.fr Bernard Gallay 46°35'S 94°36'E 130 10.9 13885 1118
13 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde Joe Seeten 48°01'S 83°24'E 93 12 14237 1470
14 Aquarelle.com Simone Bianchetti 45°52'S 72°15'E 95 8.97 14702 1935
15 Team Group 4 Mike Golding 47°17'S 59°40'E 161 13.2 15148 2381
16 Wind Pasquale de Gregorio

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