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CELEBRATING THE NEW MILLENNIUM - TWICE!

by Philippe Jeantot on 1 Jan 2001
Three competitors in the Vendée Globe 2000, of them Thomas Coville (Sodebo) the first, will have the unique privilege of not only celebrating
the New Year twice, but of actually being the first people in the world, perhaps, to see the sunrise of the next millenium. Coville was struck by
the thought this morning: 'It¹s something else other than sport or worrying about rankings, and for that it¹s a privilege to do the Vendée Globe.
Perhaps I¹ll be the first man on this planet to see the new sunrise.' On the other hand, Coville also stated that he couldn't have been more
unlucky in this race so far, as he has lost 600 miles on his rivals in the last six days after his succession of disasters.

Next will be Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée) and 9 hours later Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool), to live through this historical change
in time twice in the same life. Chabaud was amused: 'We¹ll be the first and the last to celebrate it actually, as we¹ll go back to the 31st again!'

Far from occupying their lives with this monumental occasion, the fleet has been concentrating rather on navigating in a very complex weather
system, which has dealt them a tricky, softer breeze. None of the competitors can head directly east on the optimum route. So the following
options have been unfolding on the water: Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) in the centre, ahead, and further behind, Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) in
the North. The latter is reaching the best average boat speed, 14.8 knots, and as he predicted yesterday, is counting on this depression for his
jackpot to come back into the top three rankings.

Further South, Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines ­ La Potagère) has not succeeded in closing the gap on Michel Desjoyeaux. Third place Ellen
MacArthur (Kingfisher), is gradually biting off the miles between her and these two ahead and yet is having to sail at an uncomfortable 90
degrees from the route, much further South, thanks to the wind turning earlier than hoped. The leader himself admitted: 'I wouldn¹t want to be
in my friends¹ places! Sill & Kingfisher are pretty low! I¹m going to gain more where I am ­ fantastic!' We shall soon see whether Ellen¹s brave
tactical decision is going to win or lose in this case.

Whereas Catherine noted that she has strangely never had more than 45 knots of wind, Josh Hall (EBP-Gartmore) has had quite the opposite, or
really more normal, Southern Ocean experience: never less than 35 knots and up to 50 at times. Unable to shoot directly east in the SSW flux, he
has ended up quite far North, just 140 miles off the coast of New Zealand. Despite an earlier anxiety, he is certain that this was a smart move in
the end in view of the weather to come: 'The wind will turn to the South West and West. I should find a good, comfortable wind angle to get
South East.' He may not be dreaming of winning the race anymore, but he has caught up considerably on the pack ahead and is intent on
getting into the top six.

Mike Golding (Team Group 4) continues to keep on the pace, but has suffered too much gear failure for his liking. Not only does the ongoing
problem with his water-maker often leave him quite dehydrated, despite a rain water catch of 50 litres yesterday, but now his battery is not
giving enough voltage. So he needs to run the generator when using the systems on board ­ ie: most of the time. Thus his fuel consumption is
the next issue. 'It¹s clear that my chances of a record are very small and what with these technical problems I¹ll be content to finish. It¹s a
shame, but it was always difficult coming from behind, as you had no gauge on how hard to push and so I¹ve pushed hard and that leads to
gear failure.'

Thierry Dubois (Solidaires) arrived in Bluff at 1600hrs local time (0300 UT), where the electrician was already waiting, tools in hand. Now
officially racing outside the rules, Dubois is still confident that he made the right decision : 'I was probably near to total breakdown and I
couldn¹t have envisaged myself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in that state.'

Along with the skippers, the Vendée Globe Race HQ wish you all a Happy New Year ­ until the next Millenium!


Radio Chat Extracts

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) : 'We¹re going to change day, week, month, decade, century and millenium. Well, I find passing the Equator or the
International Date Line more important. The wind¹s coming from the North East mostly. It¹s worrying for me as the boat¹s making plenty of
stressful noises. These boats aren¹t built for climbing against the wind, so I hope the wind will change and come more from behind. I wouldn¹t
want to be in my friends¹ places! Sill & Kingfisher are pretty low! I¹m going to gain more where I am ­ fantastic! I¹m in a different system, which
is quite confused. It could be a good thing for those who happen to be behind. So it¹s spicing things up and I can¹t rest on my laurels yet.'

Thierry Dubois (Solidaires) : 'Everyone was waiting for me, plus the photographer Thierry Martinez. As soon as I docked, the electrician was
already there, ready for action. Together, we chose an alternator. When tomorrow morning comes, we¹ll check it and I¹ll give a general check
over the whole boat while I can. I was probably near to total breakdown and I couldn¹t have envisaged myself in the middle of the Pacific
Ocean in that state. Now it¹s going to be a rapid circumnavigation. Happy New Year to everyone in advance!'

Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) : 'I¹ve not stopped completely, and I have exceptional sailing conditions, blue skies, charged with soft clouds,
a beautiful sea. I¹m going to have two 1st of January¹s. There¹s probably only two or three of us in this position, I think. It¹s quite amazing to
know that we¹ll be the first people to enter the new millenium. We¹ll be the first and the last to celebrate it actually, as we¹ll go back to the 31st
again ­ it¹s going to be funny! What is becoming a worrying habit, is that I¹ve never had more than 45 knots here, I seem to have passed
between all the storms, where Michel and the others have been facing up to 60 knots! It¹s colder than four years ago.'

Thomas Coville (Sodebo) : 'I¹m really Mr. Unlucky, from Unlucky town, who¹s having a bad day. After helming for 3 days without autopilot, I
promptly fell into a wind hole for another 3 days ­ so that¹s 600 miles lost in 6 days! I¹ve been attracted to disaster since the start: the whale, the
gyrocompass, then all this. I¹ve been at my wit¹s end and don¹t hope to catch the others in the lead now. I¹m determined to fight on but it¹s
hard when you know that Ellen and Marc were just 50 ­ 100 miles ahead once. I think I¹m going to be nearly at 180 degrees at midnight. I¹ll be
the first to see the first rays of the next millenium! It¹s something else other than sport or worrying about rankings, and for that it¹s a privilege
to do the Vendée Globe. Perhaps I¹ll be the first man on this planet to see the sunrise ­ awesome thought, but I¹d rather be 600 miles ahead!'

Mike Golding (Team Group 4) : 'I have suspect batteries, so the power hungry systems, like the Sat B and even C, go down very quickly. I¹m
charging at the same time as communicating. I had a final stab at fixing the water-maker, as it was producing salty water, and I was getting
dehydrated drinking it. Yesterday I managed to collect 50 litres of rainwater, so I¹m enjoying a good drink and feel better for it. After the genoa
problem it¹s clear that my chances of a record are very small. I¹m 300 ­ 400 miles behind the lead boat in terms of time, and what with these
technical problems I¹ll be content to finish. It¹s a shame, but it was always difficult coming from behind, as you had no gauge on how hard to
push and so I¹ve pushed hard and that leads to gear failure. In order to finish I¹m going to be measured in my decisions. For New Year, well, I
haven¹t kept to the regime of opening champagne at the required times so I¹d pla

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