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King Fisher closes on Vendee Globe leader…crosses equator

by King Fisher Media on 29 Jan 2001
She's back in to the Northern Hemisphere and battling it out just 26 miles
south of PRB!

/At 0907 GMT today Kingfisher crossed the line back in to the Northern half
of the globe - her third crossing of the Equator in 10 months. Michel
Desjoyeaux passed the 'line' just 5 hours earlier, and is now only 26 miles
[at 0700] to his south [13 miles on the official rankings, but there seems
to be an error due to change from S to North] - as both boats hit the
windless zone. Boat speed at just 2 or 3 knots in only a whisper of wind,
this is what they the Doldrums. Whilst 26 miles at 2-3 knots is the same as
a 100 at 10 knots in reality, in this chaotic area of the ocean, one cloud
and localised wind squall can whisk you forward 30 miles in a couple of
hours, so its all to play for. It makes for tough sailing, every metre
counting - you have to leap from patch of wind to the next as best you can.

* Recovering from the physical and mental exertions of yesterday morning has
not been easy onboard 'Kingfisher', as increasingly unstable conditions near
the Equator have meant 24 hours of almost continuous sail changes -
necessary to look after the boat, yet at the same time eek every last tenth
of a knot of boat speed out of 'Kingfisher'. The area she is now is known as
the 'Doldrums', its the meeting point for the two hemispheres, north and
south along with their own weather systems. In between it can be chaotic,
alternating quickly from calms to squalls, and wild changes in direction of
the wind - a good summary of Ellen's night.

* Once through the Doldrums, Ellen will be on what one could finally call
the last part of the race - retrace her tracks but up the North Atlantic
Ocean to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, still some 3,300 miles to go.
The sheer length of this marathon race is brought home by considering that
after 2 and half months at sea they still have an effective Transatlantic
Race to go, a 'normal' event in the offshore racing calendar.

* On official distances to go PRB now has a lead of 26 miles, and KINGFISHER
is just under 500 miles ahead of ACTIVE WEAR, a day and a half sailing in
the new wind conditions they have finally touched. Thiercelin will certainly
try to take a radical option to find a crossing point in the Doldrums that
allows him to catch the leaders...SILL is just 60 behind him, and the next
pair SODEBO and UBP are still struggling to escape the calms still - now
over a 1000 miles behind the leader.

Click here for the
weather and lastest positions

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