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PRB IN THE BAY OF BISCAY, KINGFISHER SUFFERS SETBACK

by Philippe Jeantot on 10 Feb 2001
Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) appeared overjoyed on this morning¹s radio chat with the Vendée Globe Race HQ. The favourable weather conditions indicate a rapid
approach to the finish line. Sailing ahead of a front with which he is moving at the same pace, PRB is going to benefit from 20 ­ 30 knot Southerly winds. Making a
steady average speed of 17 knots, perhaps slowing down just on the home straight, he is expected to arrive on Saturday at around 1600hrs French time.

For his first participation in the Vendée Globe, Desjoyeaux, hailing from Brittany, has sailed a faultless race. Always up in the top pack, he has controlled the fleet,
calmly waiting for his hour. After sitting in Yves Parlier¹s (Aquitaine Innovations ) wake for a long time, he slipped into first place in the Indian Ocean after
negotiating a good option on the weather. He only then lost his command for two brief instances, and by Cape Horn he had managed to put himself ahead by what
was thought to be an irreversible 640 miles. The worse effects of the Saint Helen high pressure phenomenon allowed his nearest rivals to dissolve this gap, Ellen
MacArthur (Kingfisher) even taking the lead from him for a day at the Equator. However, he succeeded in escaping the Doldrums first and since has managed to
create a sufficiently comfortable gap for him to sail more serenely to the finish.

This morning Desjoyeaux was 499 miles from the finish, with 237 miles over Ellen in second place. Looking forward to the victory that awaits him, Desjoyeaux
commented: '80% of the result was done before the start. The technical choices, the preparation of PRB, the knowledge of the boat were all determining factors,
even if I could have sailed much better. The turning point was in the Indian Ocean. I think we¹ve smashed the record because we¹ve had good conditions on the
whole of the course. We had the biggest storm the day before yesterday.'

Ellen MacArthur herself was low in moral again after suffering yet another setback in the final run to the finish. 'I don¹t have a boat which works at 100% because
I¹ve broken the genoa stay. It happened two days ago: the stay broke when I was furling in the sails to head closer to the wind. Yesterday I sailed with one reef
and the solent nearly all day, which explains why I¹ve dropped back in miles behind Michel. I couldn¹t put up full main sail, because if there had been any further
problems it could affect the stability of the mast. In just these last three weeks I¹ve hit a container, broken a rudder, and now the stayŠ!'

This has of course put a small delay on her ETA in Les Sables d¹Olonne, and she is now hoping to be in late on Sunday or even very early on Monday morning.
Already waiting for her on shore in Les Sables d¹Olonne are an unprecedented number of international media, who have descended on this French coastal town
just to witness her finish, her own story over the last 3 months inspiring thousands worldwide.

The race is far from over for those behind. Two skippers are still in the Pacific Ocean, rapidly approaching Cape Horn. The majority of the fleet are scattered over
the South & North Atlantic. All the skippers have been speaking of race leader Michel Desjoyeaux with a great deal of respect for his performance and talent.

The Vendée Globe is, as Ellen phrased it this morning, 'the biggest, most beautiful and extraordinary thing' a sailor could ever experience. For all, just crossing the
finish line is, in its own right, a personal victory. To finish first is heroic, but then to pulverise the existing record of 105 days and 20 hours and under the 100 day
barrier is to become a legend.

Michel Desjoyeaux has assuredly become the first sailor in the history of navigation to have won a solo round the world yacht race undere 100 days. If he is to
cross the line at 1600hrs tomorrow, he will have completed his course in 92 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes.

Radio Chat Extracts

Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagère) : 'I¹m watching my friend Thiercelin and know that he is further in the North than me because the light airs associated
with anticyclone are still to my East. The wind returned last night, but it was a hard pill to swallow in all, I fell right into the anticyclone and just have never had such
variable winds! I¹m helming more than usual and listening to more music as I have to enjoy and celebrate these final days on board. Despite a longing to get to
shore, it¹s hard to finish a project, which has been in preparation for over a year and a half. One regret will be that I won¹t be climbing onto the first place on the
podium, but it¹s not the most important thing.'

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher): 'I¹m sailing with my gennaker, one reef in the main sail. I don¹t have a boat which works at 100% because I¹ve broken the genoa
stay. It happened two days ago: the stay broke when I was furling in the sails to head closer to the wind. Yesterday I sailed with one reef and the solent nearly all
day, which explains why I¹ve dropped back in miles behind Michel. I couldn¹t put up full main sail, because if there had been any further problems it could affect
the stability of the mast.

'The problem happened before yesterday evening, but I didn¹t want to talk about it until I had fully assessed and understood the situation. The ETA for Sunday
afternoon may need to be revised, the wind is also weakening. It will more likely be early on Monday morning now.

'I¹m really happy to be here though. It¹s such a shame to incur boat damage at this stage just before the finish, it¹s not great for my moral. In just these last three
weeks I¹ve hit a container, broken a rudder, and now the stayŠ! Michel has sailed faultlessly in terms of his weather analysis. I can¹t comment any further, the race
isn¹t over yet. The Vendée Globe is the biggest, most beautiful and extraordinary thing I¹ve experienced in my life, the adventure hasn¹t finished yet, and there are
still quite a few miles to go.'

Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée) : 'I think Michel won this race pretty early on, in the descent between the Canaries and the Doldrums. He¹s had all the
right cards to win this race over and above his talent. When I got stuck South of New Zealand with Sodebo & Whirlpool, I said to myself that it would be difficult
to come back. Off the Brazilian coastline, the Saint Helen system closed the way for those behind as well. Then it became nigh on impossible - the Azores
anticyclone should had played the game and closed the door on the leaders!

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) : 'I am sailing at 17knots since 4 o¹clock this morning, and each mile I sail gets me closer to the finish. I¹ll try to arrive around 15hrs UT.
It¹s realistic and I will be able to rest a bit before I have to face the crowd. I¹m ahead of a front. I can stay like that up to the finish if I go fast or if I wait a bit I¹ll
arrive a bit more downwind. I will slow down when I want. The boat is doing between 18 and 20 knots all the time, it might be a bit too much. There is a calm
between the low pressure you have had and the one arriving with me. Before noon I will have crossed the cargo lane.

Latest Ranking* polled at 0930hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF*** Miles from leader
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 43°55'N 10°24'W 61 17.6 404 0
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 43°41'N 17°41'W 16 13.7 689 285
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 34°54'N 30°09'W 1 12.7 1451 1047
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 36°22'N 37°18'W 30 14.4 1699 1295
5 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 21°41'N 33°58'W 7 12.4 2165 1761
6 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 21°29'N 34°16'W 360 13.7 2174 1770
7 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 14°16'N 35°21'W 355 11.9 2569 2165
8

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