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DESJOYEAUX THE FIRST TO HIT THE WESTERLY WINDS

by Philippe Jeantot on 6 Feb 2001
The two leading boats in the Vendée Globe have been slowed up by the light airs associated with the Azores anticyclone since yesterday evening. Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), 1 degree
further North, was nearer to the exit door than his direct rival, Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher). This morning at 0930hrs Desjoyeaux informed the race HQ that he had just got going again
in Westerly winds, sailing at 11 knots, heading 37 degrees direct towards Les Sables d¹Olonne. He is now looking at an ETA of 1000hrs on Saturday 10th February, and this ETA will be
made more precise each day.

Meanwhile Ellen, during this time, had come back to 15 miles behind the leader according to distance to finish, but was positioned in his South East and had not caught the good winds
yet. 'I¹ve got no wind. I spent the whole of last night in these light airs. I tried to get the boat moving, what else can I say really. I expect Michel is well placed in the North because
there is better wind in the NE, but I¹m just doing the best I can.' She managed to change her daggerboard over last night to the good side, and now on port tack to the finish in
following winds, she should not be hampered by this problem too much. Moreover, her gennaker, although admittedly not 100% effective, is back up, after spending 18 hours repairing
it some time ago.

So unfortunately for Ellen the gap will start stretching out again, now that Desjoyeaux has caught his train home. The distance created between them is likely to be the same distance,
which will hold up until the finish. Only now can Desjoyeaux, after 89 days racing, seriously think about taking the crown. The weather seems to be stable enough from here to the
finish in theory. In the low pressure systems the wind blows essentially from the South West, building steadily. Expect 40 to 50 knots at the finish line itself.

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) was the fastest boat this morning, signs that he has benefited from steady trade winds, but he can¹t have his cake and eat it. He lies still in the wake of
Roland Jourdain (Sill Matine la Potagere), whom he had hoped to gain an advantage over in terms of longitude to the East: 'The boat is moving quickly now but I can¹t go in the
direction I want ­ it¹s either one or the other! I hope to come back on Bilou, something has to happen there, I have about 20 hours delay on him in terms of latitude.'

Jourdain himself informed the Race HQ that a temporary glitch with his autopilot caused his boat to swerve violently and the resulting tear in the main sail from a batten piercing the
cloth took him 3 hours to repair on deck. He then discovered a ton of water in his forward hold and lost more time and energy trying to pump it dry and source the origin of the leak.
Material is certainly paying a heavy price as the pace doesn¹t slack for a moment with all the close battles being waged throughout the fleet.

Mike Golding (Team Group 4) had a big scare when he realised that he was extremely close to dismasting for the second time two days ago. On a casual inspection of the rig he said 'I
was very shocked to find that the cap shroud was at 10% of the original thickness and I was scared that it would break in my hands.' Mike immediately set up a jury rig, using a vectran
strop and gennaker halyard to stabilise the rig and allow him to tack back on to starboard and get back into the fight. After a delayed start of 8 days and 4 hours after the rest of the
fleet, Golding has sailed a remarkable race, lying in 9th place overall and still threatening fellow Brit Josh Hall (EBP/Gartmore).

Hall¹s biggest fear in this non-stop oceanic race is, strangely enough, the coast of Brazil. 'I¹m hoping that the wind will turn to the East as I¹m trapped here. I¹m looking at the weather
predictions, one says yes it will go round for me, the other says no! I¹ll have to go on a bad tack tomorrow and probably lose 100 miles on Mike.'

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) has been slowed up by light, fickle winds as well. Two days from Cape Horn he is despairing a little on how many days lie ahead of him. 'Even if
I¹m not making progress on boatspeed, I still have to eat, especially if it¹s cold. With the strict diet I¹m following at the moment I should last up to Les Sables if I eat fish during 8 days. I
haven't done any fishing yet.'

Radio Chat Extracts

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) : 'I¹ve got no wind. I spent the whole of last night in these light airs. I tried to get the boat moving, what else can I say really. I¹m sailing my own route, I¹m
getting out of this in my own time. I expect Michel is well placed in the North because there is better wind in the NE, but I¹m just doing the best I can. The gennaker isn¹t 100% but I can
use it if I want. I changed the daggerboard from one side to the other last night, it¹s in its good side now.'

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) : 'I¹m rather annoyed to have got the wind later than expected. My ETA, is probably going to be around Monday or Tuesday next week. I don¹t know
what the others ahead have calculated but perhaps the 12th. Apparently there is a big storm waiting for us. I hope to come back on Bilou, something has to happen there, like he slows
down for 12 hours. I have about 20 hours delay on him in terms of latitude.

Josh Hall (EBP/Gartmore): 'I have a major concern about passing the Brazilian coastline as the NE wind has died and I¹m hoping that the wind will turn to the East. I¹m in a little trap
here. The wind has turned for Team Group 4 but not for me. I¹m looking at the weather predictions, one says yes it will go round for me, the other says no! So I may be cooking up a
BBQ on the beach soon!'

Joé Seeten (Chocolats du Monde Nord Pas de Calais) : 'We¹re going upwind in a fairly rough sea, but the wind is still quit variable. As Patrice¹s autopilot isn¹t on wind mode, that
must be having an effect on his boat speed. The advantage with Œwind mode¹ is that even when I¹m lying in my bunk, the wind can shift and the boat rests on the same heading. Well,
it¹s not that simple as in a choppy sea it¹s stressful for the boat but not for the skipper!'

Mike Golding (Team Group 4) : 'After the rough weather four days ago on a casual inspection I was very shocked to find that the cap shroud was at 10% of the original thickness and
was scared that it would break in my hands. In the South Atlantic I also had problems with my batteries, and fixed this by adding water, but it wasn¹t distilled, just ordinary. Basically
now the batteries are clogging up. They are taking the charge but never seem to get full. Now I¹ve got 25 litres of fuel supply and 2 weeks to go ­ it will be extremely tight. My fear in the
South Atlantic is running a black ship which I really don¹t like.'

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations): 'I am going from 12 knots to just 2 knots in 5 minutes so my ETA to Cape Horn is always changing. I should pass it in two days. It¹s getting
worse food wise. I am not making any progress but even if I¹m not, I still have to eat, especially if it¹s cold. At the moment I am not fishing anything. With the strict diet I¹m following at
the moment I should last up to Les Sables if I eat fish during 8 days. I must not be late, and I need to fish. My ETA for Les Sables is around the 20th March. The leaders will be the first
sailors to go round the world single handed in less than a hundred days. I would have liked to have been one of them...'

Bernard Gallay (Voilà.fr): 'I tacked last night on to the favourable tack to pass the Equator and Saint Helen high pressure system. My heading is correct, 340 degrees and I¹m sailing at
around 9 ­ 9.5 knots. If things stay as they are, so much the better. I¹ve got 300 miles to catch up but there could still be an opportunity with the weather to make this up.'


Latest Ranking* polled at 0800hrs (UT):

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

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