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CoastWaterSports 2014
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Vendee Globe leaders expected to finish on Saturday-Sunday

by Philipe Jeantot on 7 Feb 2001
On day 90 of the Vendée Globe, Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) & Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) have both touched the Westerly winds and are on the final sprint home to the finish line in Les
Sables d¹Olonne. Desjoyeaux was the first to get going and has managed to pull out a comfortable lead of 126 miles over Ellen, which, as he remarked, 'represents the time difference of
the two boats entering the dorsal.' As PRB was further in the North, Desjoyeaux has inevitably reached stronger winds, and is roaring along at speeds of around 16 knots, or 2 and a half
knots faster than the British skipper.

Michel Desjoyeaux, once holder of a 640 mile gap over Ellen rounding Cape Horn, is only now thinking seriously about taking the final victory in this planetary regatta, with just another
two low pressure systems to take him there. 'Now it¹s the weather ahead, which I am focused on. The boat¹s going much faster than I thought coming out of this ridge! I am so
conscious of not wanting to break anything, which would slow PRB down now. I¹ve got one foot on the accelerator, one on the brakeŠ'

During the final 1528 miles left to go, the weather systems look stable until the finish and even between the two low pressure systems sweeping across from the West, there is no
significant lighter patch in the forecasts to dramatically slow up both or either boat.

Ellen, whose determination and tenacity have held the world breathless, has watched the great escape ahead, and with perhaps a tinge of resignation in her voice commented this
morning: 'I tried an option in the East but it hasn¹t worked out well as you can see. We need to get back home, that¹s all. There is not a lot to do strategy-wise anymore. The only chance
left was the Azores anticyclone. I can¹t see anything else except if Michel has a problem.' Knowing Ellen, there won¹t be any question of resignation before she reaches the finish line,
and she¹ll be fighting to the very end to keep the pressure on the leader and ensure no-one else usurps her own position.

Her nearest threat comes from Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère), who is consolidating his third place in the rankings ahead of Marc Thiercelin. However, this morning he did not
seem overly optimistic of an opportunity to climb further up the podium. 'I imagine that life isn¹t too great for Marc Thiercelin, and I don¹t see any danger from him in the immediate. I¹m
just about to miss the system which Mich & Ellen have got into. There¹s nothing tactically now I can do, but at the risk of repeating myself, anything can still happen.'

Sparring partners Thomas Coville (Sodebo) & Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée) have at last escaped the nightmare of the Saint Helen & Doldrum light airs and are pacing
themselves at around 10 knots in the fair trade winds. Coville is the one now ahead by less than 20 miles, a surprising fact for him: 'It¹s nice to have a comrade in arms as it were so close
by, and it spices things up for the finish. I thought he would put more miles between us after the Doldrums because I don¹t have my genoa.'

Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool), who was given a Œcarte blanche¹ by the winds, to pass unharmed through the Saint Helen anticyclone, crossed the Equator line at 1400hrs UT
yesterday. 'It¹s great to have caught up 300 miles or so. I went West, just like Bilou, and we¹re the only ones not to have slowed down. I really have a good upwind boat and I hope it
will help me to come back on the boats ahead of me.'

The British battle between Mike Golding (Team Group 4) and Josh Hall (EBP/Gartmore) is hotting up. It is now Golding ahead by a mere 24 miles, but in the more favourable position to
the East, as Hall himself looks like he is about to take a beach holiday in Brazil, still hanging in there for that crucial wind change to the East.

With the current average speeds (16 ­ 17 knots) held by the leading boat, we estimate an arrival on Saturday 10th February at some point in the day.

Radio Chat Extracts

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher): 'The Azores high pressure system wasn¹t shaped very well, not very stable so it was a bit hard. I tried an option in the East but it hasn¹t worked out well
as you can see on the positions this morning. We need to come back home, that¹s simple. The wind is going to turn West then South. There is not a lot to do strategy-wise anymore. The
only chance left was the Azores anticyclone. I can¹t see anything else except if Michel has a problem.'

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) : 'It feels so good to be swallowing up the miles back home. This morning there were 120 miles between Ellen and myself, which represents the time difference
of the two boats entering the dorsal. The most optimistic ETA would be Friday afternoon, and a more reasonable one would be Saturday during the day. Now it¹s the weather ahead,
which I am focused on. The boat¹s going much faster than I thought coming out of this ridge! I am so conscious of not wanting to break anything, which would slow PRB down now. I
know that the depression is moving faster than us and we¹ll hitch a ride with the next one which will follow all the way to Les Sables.'

Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère) : 'I passed the other side of the dorsal and I¹m sailing on port tack upwind. The worst is over. I just have to get going as quickly as possible
but I¹m just about to miss the system which Mich & Ellen have got into. How annoying! I can see lots of lovely wind arrows ahead on the weather files! I can¹t catch it so I¹ll have to wait
for the next train! I¹m third right now so it¹s good already. I imagine that life isn¹t too great for Marc Thiercelin, and I don¹t see any danger from him in the immediate.'

Thomas Coville (Sodebo): 'The trades are back, I¹m going at 10 ­ 11 knots and must be nearly in sight of Dominique. I called him last night as I saw a tree trunk floating past, which could
be disastrous if he hit it. It¹s nice to have a comrade in arms as it were so close by, and it spices things up for the finish. I thought he¹d put more miles between me and him after the
Doldrums because I don¹t have my genoa.'

Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) : 'I crossed the Equator at 1417hrs UT yesterday and I was a nice feeling. I am quite happy to be back to 300 or so miles from Thomas and Dominique.
Nearly back in the match. I was 700 miles behind some time ago so it¹s good. I went West, just like Bilou, and we¹re the only ones not to have slowed down. I really have a good upwind
boat and I hope it will help me to come back on the boats ahead of me.'

Simone Bianchetti (Aquarelle.com) : 'The last two days I¹ve been making good progress. I¹ve caught a bit on Seeten, even in these unstable squally conditions. Mario, my autopilot, is
holding up well. I¹m trying not to stress out the mast as it¹s the one thing which worries me the most, especially going downwind when the main sail pressurizes the rig much more up
above.'

Latest Ranking* polled at 0800hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF*** Miles from leader
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 32°54'N 29°15'W 45 16.7 1496 0
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 31°02'N 30°36'W 38 13.9 1622 126
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 27°08'N 34°41'W 19 9.79 1928 432
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 25°25'N 37°22'W 338 8.62 2112 616
5 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 07°44'N 32°45'W 355 10.3 2839 1343
6 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 07°47'N 33°15'W 352 10.2 2856 1360
7 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 01°53'N 33°26'W 335 7.74 3198 1702
8 Team Group 4 Mike Golding 11°40'S 32°19'W 7 9.99 3966 2470
9 EBP - Défi PME - Gartmore Josh Hall 10°54'S 36°34'W 347 9.69 3990 2494
10 Voilà.fr Bernard Gallay 18°30'S

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