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Vendee Globe Leader around the corner, others closing on Horn

by Philippe Jeantot on 12 Jan 2001



'PRB' HOMEWARD BOUND
Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), leading the Vendée Globe still, passed Cape Horn yesterday evening at 1907 hrs (French time) and at the same time crossed over from the Pacific to the
Southern Atlantic Ocean. Right ahead now is a 7114 mile straight line with Les Sables d¹Olonne at the end of it. No more vast Southern Ocean swell, with its characteristic long, deep and
powerful waves. No more need for dodging depressions and icebergs, for fearing capsize or major damage in deserted and hostile waters. No more taste of bitter temperatures, rendering
the skipper exhausted and frozen after every manoeuvre on deck. Cape Horn is the exit sign out of such hellish conditions. Once passed, the indicators signal a left turn and the heading
is directly North, towards sun, warmth, forgiving winds and a better life.

However, the fleet still must negotiate in reverse the Saint Helen high pressure system, sitting fat and round in the middle of the South Atlantic, also the light airs familiar to the Brazilian
coastline, and then cross the Equator and the Doldrums, which are normally less active in the West. Then the upwind battle continues in the South East trade winds generated by the
Azores anticyclone. The final hurdle is to position well for the Westerly flowing North Atlantic low pressure systems. Lastly, cross back over the Bay of Biscay and arrive at the finish
line in Les Sables d¹Olonne.

In the first Vendée Globe, Titouan Lamazou took 34 days to sail from Cape Horn to Les Sables. In the second edition, Alain Gautier took exactly the same number of days, and in the third
edition, Christophe Auguin took 38 days. If Michel Desjoyeaux adds his current number of days at sea to the number of days taken by the two first Vendée winners, that is 62 + 34, we
get to an estimated total run of 96 days, and an arrival on February 13th.

Desjoyeaux has four days and 18 hours advance over Christophe Auguin, who holds the current record of 105 days and 20 hours. Veteran of two previous Vendée¹s, Yves Parlier
(Aquitaine Innovations), gave his prediction : 'I think Mich is in time to break the 100 day circumnavigation. Christophe Auguin was quite slow coming up the Atlantic.'

Life in the Pacific Ocean for the rest of the fleet has livened up a bit, with the wind decidedly more co-operative again. Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) admits that her second position is by
no means secure, though, as she continues an all-consuming battle to position well for a tricky front coming in to keep North of its centre, pick up the better winds and round Cape Horn
tomorrow night.

Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère) and Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear), anticipating their own passage the day after Ellen, are now on the same latitude and just one degree of
longitude apart. Thiercelin is waiting to pounce on the Œwounded bird¹ ahead of Jourdain, though, knowing that the skipper of 'Sill' will be relinquishing his top three spot in order to
anchor off the Chilean coast, climb the mast and fix his mast track for good.

Josh Hall (EBP-Gartmore) is back in the good times, surfing along at up to 24 knots, and if the weather holds he expects to reach Cape Horn by the 17th January. Within a day¹s sailing
behind Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool), he is slowly but surely attacking the miles lying in between them.

News of the adventurers: Simone Bianchetti (Aquarelle.com) succeeded in finding shelter off Stewart Island and without actually anchoring he let his boat drift with bare poles, as he
climbed up to fix the second spreader on his mast. 'It doesn¹t look pretty, but then it¹s sturdy and it has put me at my ease again.'

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) spent another successful day in his temporary floating workshop in the bay of Stewart Island. He has dismasted the boat and started cutting
carbon. 'When I saw the boom vertical and the mast horizontal the whole thing seemed somewhat paradoxical!' Amused by circling helicopters carrying curious photographers, Yves is
certainly vying with Michel for attention, if just for his incredible ingenuity and determination.

Radio Chat Extracts

Simone Bianchetti (Aquarelle.com) : 'I had some difficulty in preparing the work, getting out the paint and filling. But then, to do the stratification work, the weather and temperature were
perfect. The sun dried the epoxy. It doesn¹t look pretty but then it¹s sturdy and it has put me at ease again. I didn¹t anchor as that would have taken me half a day. I thought about going
to say hello to Yves Parlier but the island is quite dangerous because of the rocks and I have no charts of the area. I really wanted to see him though but I couldn¹t take the risk.'

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) : 'I¹ve dismasted! It took forever but it was okay. When I saw the boom vertical and the mast horizontal the whole thing seemed to be somewhat
paradoxical! I have an anchorage on a rocky ledge, which I discovered at low tide. Tomorrow I¹m going to cut into the mast and delaminate the layer of carbon inside. All being well,
tomorrow night I¹ll do a test run to see if the extension piece is holding. Last night I went to wash myself in a freezing stream of water and on returning to the boat, I felt a cramp in my
backside. It then took hold in my legs, and I nearly fell over. According to my doctor, it¹s my sciatica nerve, which cannot support the cold. I think Mich is in time to break the 100 day
circumnavigation. Christophe Auguin was quite slow coming up the Atlantic.'

Pasquale de Gregorio (Wind) : 'About the sea, it is enough to go 2 degrees south in latitude that the panorama and atmosphere change radically, becoming sad, lugubrious and the
waves turn into a shape very partcular. I'll get used to it. Today the desalinizator produced other 7 bottles of pure sweet water and the cabin Vhf is also repaired and back to work. The
weather and temperature are not too bad and with light winds, good to make other boat checks.'

Joé Seeten( Nord Pas de Calais/ Chocolats du Monde): 'The weather for the last 48 hours has been terrible. Hard to push the boat through it, I keep in 1 reef in the main sail. I should
arrive at Cape Horn on January 22 ­ 23rd. I hope there¹ll be a welcoming committee for me there! Without doubt Yvon and his daughter Karine (Fauconnier) will come out. It would be
great to see someone after one and a half months! Four or five days ago both my wind generators broke down. I think it was due to the magnetic South Pole as they have graphite
particles inside them. It seemed so bizarre for both to fail a few days after each other.'

Bilou (Roland Jourdain: Sill Matines la Potagère): 'A depression has passed above me, I¹m sort of sailing between upwind and close reaching with the shifting wind. I¹m feverishly
waiting to reach the rock. I¹ll be able to work out my ETA when the wind changes, perhaps around 0000hrs on 13th January. I¹m ready, with a watertight bag weighing 7 ­ 8 kilos, carrying
all the tools inside, to shin up the mast. My checklist looks like an Air France pilot¹s pre-flight inventory! Once I¹m up top I can¹t have forgotten to bring anything with me! I can¹t get the
anchoring operation wrong the first time either. To do this single-handed is not something I¹m experienced at. I¹ll have to wait until it¹s held before going up the mast. Sometimes I am
envious of the others, and things are great for Michel, he¹s on a roll, it¹s all been a question of weather strategy. Yes, I look at him and am jealous of his position.'


Latest Ranking* polled at 1100hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF*** Miles from leader
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 54°02'S 63°10'W 24 15.6 6923 0
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 56°38'S 78°24'W 128 10.6 7485 562
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 55°19'S 85°43'W 63 13.8 7770 847

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