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Vendee Globe, leaders approach to Cape Horn makes followers think.

by Philippe Jeantot on 11 Jan 2001
The anticipation of approaching the legendary landmark of Cape Horn is on every skipper¹s mind. Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) was only 120 miles away this morning, and estimated that he
will arrive this evening. He is experiencing quite a variable Westerly 25 knot wind, in both direction and strength, which renders him unable to be more exact about his ETA.

Michel Desjoyeaux has succeeded to hang on the back of the low pressure system for quite a long time, heading directly towards the Horn and gaining mile upon mile in a constant
breeze, compared to his friends behind. They have been struggling to keep up a good speed in the anticyclonic dorsal passing over them. Better late than never, the chasing pack have at
last got going again as the next depression has caught up with them and the speeds rise back and even out at 12 ­ 13 knots.

All except for second placed Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) that is, who trails along at 7 knots in the dorsal while Michel is pushing out 14 knots. That translated into an 88 mile loss in a
matter of 3 hours for Ellen just this morning. Deprived of her gennaker until she can repair it, she admits herself: 'unfortunately the higher angles I have to sail with the genoa are not
good for my positioning, but I just need to accept that is how it is.'

Coming up gradually from behind the triumvirate ahead is a caustic and yet rejuvenated Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear), determined to strike while the iron¹s hot, or rather when two of
the leaders are suffering from damage. This pretender to the throne is beating into 40 knot headwinds, uncomfortable stuff, but munching the miles all the same: 'I¹ve asked myself quite
often if God is English these days. I¹m getting sick of staying behind for two months. So it¹s time to catch the Œinvincible¹ Ellen!'

Nerves are fraying further back, as some skippers, who hoped, after 63 days of racing, to be better positioned, confess that the lighter Pacific conditions have played more havoc with
their mind rather than body. Dominique Wavre (UBP), hanging back in 6th place and 1405 miles behind Desjoyeaux, is one such victim: 'I think it will take me 6 - 8 days to arrive at Cape
Horn. It will be the end of a nerve-wracking period. This South has been more tiring psychologically than physically.'

Mike Golding (Team Group 4) also remarked at how unusually mild the Pacific was this year: 'I've been out and about just wearing a light top and even shorts at one point!' He is hoping
that the anticyclonic dorsal spreading diagonally from Southern New Zealand to the South East will hit those ahead and to the South of him as well. His sights are now set on moving in
over the next closely grouped pack of boats: Joé Seeten (Nord Pas de Calais/Choc Du Monde), Bernard Gallay (Voila.fr), Patrice Carpentier (VM Materiaux) and Thierry Dubois
(Solidaires).

Didier Munduteguy (DDP - 60ème Sud) however is entering the Pacific on the day that Desjoyeaux passes Cape Horn. One ocean apart. These two skippers perfectly symbolise the two
dimensions of the Vendée Globe: adventure and competition.

The Vendée Globe is a mixture of these two aspirations. There may be a different dose for each skipper, but it is important to have one¹s objectives aligned with the skipper/boat
potential. This balance found, and the sailor will also find an inner equilibrium as well as a unique bond with their own boat.


Radio Chat Extracts

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB): 'I¹m still not sure of my ETA, right now I¹m going at 10/15 knots and I¹m heading to the Horn but just a moment ago I was going at 15 knots and at 25/30
degrees from the route. Moreover, I don¹t know what the influence of Terra Del Fuego is with the weather ­ all these unknown factors! I¹ve seen that Ellen has clawed back a lot of miles
on me, she should have better conditions than me passing the Horn, and I¹m going to try not to make any mistakes after that. You always think you¹re going to pass some barrier leaving
one ocean and entering another, always a bizarre sensation and it can be often an emotionally poignant time.'

Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée): 'Still no storm! I am sailing down wind and I have all sails up. Right now I am having a coffee and I am watching the sunrise. In the Southern
Ocean we haven¹t had the wonderful swell, but I hope we¹ll have some nice long waves before the Horn. I think it will take me 6 - 8 days to arrive there. It will be the 5th time I¹ll pass it
and the end of a nerve-wracking period. This South has been more tiring on a psychological point of view than physically.'

Mike Golding (Team Group 4): 'I've got the watermaker going, but have a problem with the wiring inside my computer. It rained briefly in the last two days, but it's hard to collect with so
much spray about, you end up with a mix of salt and fresh water. Going downwind with 1 reef is the best time. I get a funnel and a jerrycan, lash them in place at the base of the mast and
pull out the folds in the sail to catch as much water to run off. It's good water but with a tendency to foam as it picks something up from the Spectra sail.'

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) : 'The ridge of high pressure caught us, and we've been sailing in as little as 6 knots of wind - which without the gennaker is tough going. We are bouncing
around a lot as well in a really messy sea. Unfortunately the higher angles I have to sail with the genoa are not good for my positioning, but I just need to accept that is how it is. I have
prepared everything to start the repair on the gennaker, although I shan't attempt it for quite a while, well after Cape Horn. I only have enough material for one go, so I need to make sure
its dry so that the repair sticks properly - down here that is almost impossible. We should touch the new strong winds from the north soon. Sooner the better.'

Didier Munduteguy (DDP 60ème Sud) : 'Boats like PRB, Kingfisher or Sill give this race a competitive aspect, but as far as I¹m concerned, I¹m pacing myself just to get round the world.
It¹s a chance in a lifetime for me to be doing what I¹m doing right now. If in the future this race still holds onto both the adventurous and competitive dimensions, it will be marvelous.
After such a period of time at sea, nothing escapes you, and you¹ve discovered a sort of environmental community, which forms around the boat. Paying attention to these things is
really important, as are feeling the rhythms and particular sensations of the boat, falling into the sleeping and eating cycles. I hope that this relationship I have with my boat will mean
that I¹ll make it to the end.'

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear): 'I¹m going upwind and the boat¹s banging around a bit. The winds just about to shift North, and I¹ve got 40 knots. I am trying not to go down any lower
as I want to get a ride on the next depression coming in behind. I want to come back on Ellen. I¹ve asked myself quite often if God is English these days. I¹m getting sick of staying
behind for two months. So it¹s time to catch the Œinvincible¹ Ellen. As for Yves, it¹s fantastic what he¹s doing. It adds another dimension to the race, and it¹s great to keep track of his
progress. Good to remember that the Vendée Globe is an adventure. It¹s been too much of a regatta recently.'


Latest Ranking* polled at 0900hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF*** Miles from leader
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 55°53'S 70°35'W 95 14.2 7212 0
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 55°12'S 85°51'W 47 7.05 7785 573
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 53°49'S 92°53'W 105 12.2 8047 835
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 55°09'S 94°46'W 57 11.6 8060 848
5 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 53°20'S 105°21'W 67 13.8 8443 1231
6 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 51°58'S 110

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