Please select your home edition
Allen Brothers
Product Feature
Sail Trim - Theory & Practice by Peter Hahne
 Sail Trim - Theory & Practice by Peter Hahne

Vendee Globe- Leader on the Date Line, Ground Hog Day!!

by Philippe Jeantot on 29 Dec 2000


In the Vendée Globe, each skipper has his own landmarks, but rather than birthdays, Christmas or New Year,
they tend to be geographical, such as the Equator, the Roaring Forties and passing the longitude of Cape of
Good Hope or Leeuwin. Today, fleet leader Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) will cross the International Date Line,
in effect he will live through the 28th December twice. To be precise, he will pass from 179°59¹59¹¹ East to
179°59¹59¹¹ West, or from 28th December GMT + 12hrs to 28th December GMT ­ 12hrs.

Significant for the skippers is that their longitude will stop elongating to the East, and start diminishing from
the West, a sign that that they are truly on their way home to Les Sables d¹Olonne at 1°47 West. At this
point, 5845 miles separate leader Desjoyeaux from the rear of the fleet, Fedor Konyoukhov (Modern
University for the Humanities), which translates to one month of sailing for the Russian. When the first boat
arrives mid-February, he may still be in mid-Pacific Ocean, two months away from the finish line.

Thankfully for Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère), his immediate rival, the wind has filled in and he
is back on the chase. Behind Jourdain by just under 200 miles lies the young British skipper Ellen
MacArthur (Kingfisher), still coming up with the goods. Ellen has got to the point where ŒKingfisher¹ was
launched from New Zealand in February, and the two have sailed the rest of the Vendée Globe course from
here. It is no doubt a psychologically reassuring factor for her to have got to this point in third place, from
which she can now attack the leaders instead of defend her position from those behind.

Faced with a 200 mile gap behind Ellen to make up still, Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) vented his frustration
this morning: 'I¹d really come back, worked so hard and now I¹ve lost it all! I was behind Ellen, when the
wind eased off for us both. She managed to get away but I didn¹t. I climbed North to avoid the centre of the
depression and there I lost out again. My Finot boat is a demon downwind but I don¹t know, I just can¹t
seem to catch Ellen.' Thiercelin is impatient to reach Cape Horn ahead of MacArthur.

Two other skippers also longing to get into the Atlantic leg to be able to push their boats more
competitively again are Josh Hall (EBP-Gartmore) and Italian Simone Bianchetti ( Hall
describes below how it is 10 times more difficult to achieve anything on board on this 'Disney Land ride'.
He recalls in the 1990 BOC Challenge 'the ecstasy of rounding The Horn and almost instantly losing this
big swell and the fear dissipating hourly - it is that ecstasy I seek now.' All that Bianchetti wants is for this
same 3 ­ 4 metre swell to smooth out so that he can climb the mast in safety and check his rig, which will for
him now be after passing below the longitude of New Zealand.

Now that the first ten boats have escaped the effects of the magnetic South Pole, the autopilots are working
coherently again. Skippers, such as Thomas Coville (Sodebo), can now recuperate from hours at the helm
and constant anxiety, sailing at no more than 10 knots for fear of repeated knockdowns. Thomas himself has
slept for a good 4 ­ 5 hours 'without putting the alarm on', which gives you an idea of how desperately
short of rest he must have been in recent days.

The overall impression given by the Vendée skippers is that now is the time for all to start attacking again.

Radio Chat Extracts

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) : 'I¹d really come back, worked so hard and now I¹ve lost it all! I was behind
Ellen, when the wind eased off for us both. She managed to get away but I didn¹t. I climbed North to avoid
the centre of the depression and there I lost out again. I tried the Northern option to get into stronger winds
and I have 15 knots. Mich Desj has really flown the coop. That has added misery to my disappointment. Our
Finot boats really drive well downwind but I don¹t know, I just can¹t seem to catch Ellen.'

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) in a telex: 'No longer in quite the same weather as those ahead - or behind, I
feel - for the want of a better phrase - a little freer! We are just sailing under the most western part of New
Zealand as I type, and in just over 24 hours time we shall be on the same longitude as Auckland. I think
Kingfisher is feeling she¹s close to home right now, though we¹ve had a talk, and I¹ve told her that we might
stop off the next time round.'

Josh Hall (EBP-Gartmore) in a telex: 'What¹s hard is the difficulty in performing the simplest tasks. I was
desperate for some better food so, with much balancing and struggle, I cooked some spaghetti and chilli con
carne, onions and garlic. I poured it into my dog bowl and settled down at the chart table for the feast. It
needed some salt so I wedged the bowl on the chart table, and leaned back to grab it. In that 2 seconds we
lurched on a big wave and when I turned back my dog bowl was upside down on my seat. In the 1990 BOC I
well remember the ecstasy of rounding The Horn and almost instantly losing this big swell and the fear
dissipating hourly - it is that ecstasy I seek now. Once round I will celebrate by leaving a bowl of spaghetti
on the chart table for a whole day!'

Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines et La Potagère) : 'The wind has dropped regularly and is more steady. So now
the sea is better. With 20 to 25 knots of wind, I am faster than with the 25/40 knots I had yesterday evening.
I still have three to four metres of swell so we can do some good surfing. It¹s warmer. The air temperature is
9° and the water is 7. I don¹t understand what Mich is going to do in the North, may be he is trying to avoid
some low pressure centres, just like the one I was stuck in yesterday. Myself I am trying to find the best
wind angle to go as fast as possible. The weather forecast for the next days seems to uncertain to make

Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) : 'The weather was superb yesterday and so I decided to climb up the
mast. When I got up there, I had to take off my gloves and so I put them in the trouser pocket of my
oilskins. When I got down and back inside the cabin, could I find my gloves? Impossible! So I took off my
deck boots to put on my Œhouse¹ boots and voilaŠ I found my gloves: the left one in the left boot, the right
one in the right boot! Really, they have a mind of their own!

Bernard Gallay ( : 'There is absolutely no wind! The anticyclone is going at the same speed as we
are. It starts to be tiring as ahead they take 80 miles a day on us. It was funny yesterday, during a
conversation with Patrice Carpentier, he told me to read a book he had for Christmas and I was just finishing

Simone Bianchetti ( 'I¹m playing some local music, it was in a Christmas parcel. A bit like
Breton music! It¹s nice, I feel like I¹m at home when I play this music. I don¹t want to climb the mast in this
sea ­ there¹s a 3/4 metre swell, not a wise move. Perhaps I¹ll wait until after New Zealand. I want to get to
Cape Horn in one piece ­ I¹m sailing safely all the way there.'

Latest Ranking* polled at 0900hrs (UT):

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

1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 53°58'S 179°37'W 81 11.8 10839 0
2 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 55°11'S 174°48'E 101 14.2 10993 154
3 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 53°54'S 169°54'E 108 14.1 11180 341
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 52°44'S 164°11'E 69 10.9 11395 556
5 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 55°13'S 159°30'E 38 8.52 11491 652
6 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 53°01'S 155°35'E 83 13.5 11667 828
7 Whirlpool Catherine

Related Articles

Juno - A family affair
Winning the Performance 40 Class Series by the narrowest margin Christopher Daniel's J/122e Juno has won the 2019 Performance 40 Class Series by the narrowest margin, beating Mike Blair's Cobra by just half a point in the six regatta series.
Posted today at 6:02 pm
Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race
Stretching their sea legs ahead of the official race start Over 40 boats started the Rolex Middle Sea Coastal Race today to stretch their "sea legs" ahead of the official race start on Saturday. With a northerly breeze, the Race Committee sent the fleet on the "Round Comino" course.
Posted today at 5:09 pm
Chief Executive of World Sailing to step down
Andy Hunt has notified the Board that he will be taking on a new role The Board considers that Andy has made an important contribution to the modernisation and commercial development of World Sailing, and the Board thanks Andy for his service during an intense and challenging period for World Sailing.
Posted today at 4:34 pm
RORC Transatlantic Race preview
Sixth edition set to feature a huge variety of yachts One-design VO65s and Maxi yachts have expressed their goal to take line honours and a tilt at the race record. Teams racing optimised performance cruisers will be aiming for class and the overall win under the IRC Rating Rule.
Posted today at 4:12 pm
RS700s at Brightlingsea Skiff Fest
Truly memorable with some amazing, close, high wind racing The fleet launched on Saturday in gloomy overcast conditions with light drizzle sticking tell tales to the sail and making it difficult to see when the 5kt breeze was shifting around.
Posted today at 3:42 pm
China International Women's Match Race overall
Pauline Courtois (FRA) wins in Shanghai The racing at the day 5 of inaugural China International Match Race took off in perfect racing conditions. Spectators along the shore of Dishui Lake could follow the matches as the sailors maneuvered right in front of the docks under a sunny Shanghai sky.
Posted today at 3:03 pm
Rooster Southern Topper Travellers at Bosham
"This is our favourite Topper fixture of the year" Topper sailors from around the South of England gathered at Bosham Sailing Club on Sunday 6th October for the annual Topper Open event. The day was spent in glorious sunshine and with plentiful wind. This made for exciting and challenging conditions.
Posted today at 2:51 pm
Lymington XOD Class Autumn Series Race 5
Low tide making ideal flat water sailing conditions Wednesday's XOD race was started in a blustery westerly wind with a low tide making ideal flat water sailing conditions.
Posted today at 2:29 pm
Scorpions at South Cerney
Sun shines on Lake 16 in the Cotswolds Water Park The sun most definitely shone on Lake 16 in the Cotswolds Water Park as the regular fleet of six home Flying Fifteens and four visiting boats was joined by four Scorpions eager to contest the shiny new 'Cerney Scorpion' trophy.
Posted today at 12:03 pm
Peter Harrison Foundation celebrates 20 years
Bestowing over £2 million to 56 sailing charities and projects Founded by successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, Peter Harrison KGCN CBE, the Peter Harrison Foundation and the Peter Harrison Heritage Foundation, a second grant giving charity set up in 2012, have made 1337 charitable grant totalling £51.2 million
Posted today at 10:55 am