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by Philippe Jeantot on 11 Feb 2001
On land, Les Sables d¹Olonne is frantically preparing to welcome home Vendée Globe race leader, Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), after just over 93 days at sea, while the skipper himself is
spending his final hours on the water calmly savouring a victory in the waiting. The weather conditions were looking stable and the wind promising a steady breeze, enabling him to
head directly for Les Sables D¹Olonne. Calculations were predicting an ETA on the finish line at around 1600hrs French time. However the front, which PRB was cruising ahead of, has
passed him and has left the skipper wallowing in lighter, variable winds behind.

Desjoyeaux held his last radio chat at midday with the Race HQ today: 'I'm 73 miles from the line, I'm heading 82 degrees and making 10 knots. I'm heading more for the Isle de Ré than
Les Sables! If I was on a direct route I could give an ETA but if the wind doesn't change I'll have to gybe at the Isle de Yeu to head North and there'll be 30 miles left to go! I'll get there
in 8 hours at best, 2000hrs French Time.'

Taking into account the draft of an Open 60 (4.50m), access to the channel in Les Sables d¹Olonne is limited by the tides. Until 2100hrs, PRB can still enter the port and dock at the
arrival pontoon. After this time, the boat will have to remain outside the channel to wait for the next high tide, at 0340hrs Sunday morning.

At the same time as Desjoyeaux began his final day at sea, the 15th and penultimate competitor, Didier Munduteguy (DDP/60eme Sud) was passing Cape Horn over night, putting an
end to his Southern Ocean days. Now only Italian Pasquale de Gregorio (Wind) is still navigating through the Pacific Ocean and has still 1000 miles to go until he rounds Cape Horn.

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) has had to take her foot off the pedal, anxious for her rig: 'I¹m sailing downwind still with one reef in the main sail. We don¹t have a lot of wind here so it¹s
a bit frustrating. I¹m so worried about the mast and the wind is shifting a fair bit too, which makes life harder. I just have to keep going, it¹s not easy though.' She has however kept her
gennaker flying as without it would be only crawling along at 6 knots towards home. After analysing the next weather files, she will be able to give a more precise ETA.

Radio Chat Extracts

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) : 'I¹ve had all the sails out, the more I get up the more the wind dies! I¹m not arriving on the 3.46pm TGV! I¹ll be a little late! I¹d prefer the wind to be more
Southerly so I could head directly for home. I¹m trying my best to arrive before low tide in Les Sables d¹Olonne too. I had planned it all to have a restful night and was woken at 1
o¹clock in the morning because the boat wasn¹t moving. I hoisted more sail and then reflected that my afternoon ETA was a little optimistic. It¹s annoying to arrive later but then I know
it will put a smile on my face to see the boats coming out to meet me and see all the Œearthlings¹ aboard! I love being at sea but I¹m looking forward to being on land again after 3
months as I think my boat and I are ready for a change of scene and a party! My best memory: when I passed into the lead at the Kerguelens after taking an option on the route which
looked awful but worked out in the end. The worst memory: the first of January! When I realised that I couldn¹t start my engine at all. I would change some things if I were to do this all
over again. I¹ve learned a lot about myself, my weak and strong points.'

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) : 'I¹m sailing downwind still with one reef in the main sail. We don¹t have a lot of wind here so it¹s a bit frustrating. I¹m so worried about the mast and the
wind is shifting a fair bit too, which makes life harder. I just have to keep going, it¹s not easy though. It¹s a bit much to have the gennaker up with the mast situation but if I get it down,
I¹ll only go at 6 knots to Les Sables. So it¹s staying up there. It could be problematic if I head up though. I¹m going to go North of the Cargo lane in 4 hours. Then I can rest a little
before the end and enjoy things. Normally there¹s a SW wind here and it will get lighter on Sunday. I¹ll be able to see when I get the next weather update if I¹ll get home on Sunday. I¹ve
got 18 knots of wind and without a full main I can¹t reach top speeds. It rose to 28 during the night but quickly eased of to 17.'

Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) : 'It¹s been really violent. With a boat that¹s made of carbon fibre, you take the knocks in the back, I had to spend 24 hours in my bunk without being
able to move or get out into the cockpit. It¹s more a culmination of several smaller shocks than one big violent one, which has caused my lumbago. The boat structure transmits the
shocks directly to my vertebrae and I¹ve spent a lot of time at the chart table yesterday. I¹ve done plenty of upwind sailing in this boat and she copes well, but the skipper inside
doesn¹t! They person who wins is the one who makes the least mistakes. Michel is someone who really doesn¹t make mistakes. With Ellen I had such a great chat just 24 hours ago. I
congratulated her and sent a little message. It doesn¹t surprise me that she¹s ahead of me, what surprises me is to be this far behind. You have to take your hat off to her team, Mark
Turner has looked after her well.'

Latest Ranking* polled at 0900hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF*** Miles from leader
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 46°02'N 03°40'W 85 8.96 91 0
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 44°25'N 09°47'W 81 13.5 372 281
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain 38°01'N 24°01'W 59 18.7 1069 978
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 39°31'N 32°02'W 83 10.3 1392 1301
5 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre 24°52'N 33°16'W 24 9.04 1961 1870
6 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville 24°50'N 33°30'W 28 9.59 1977 1886
7 Whirlpool Catherine Chabaud 18°25'N 35°24'W 356 9.58 2358 2267
8 Team Group 4 Mike Golding 00°05'S 33°06'W 347 5.09 3301 3210
9 EBP - Défi PME - Gartmore Josh Hall 00°57'S 33°09'W 321 1.63 3358 3267
10 Voilà.fr Bernard Gallay 02°14'S 33°30'W 12 8.21 3424 3333
11 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier 08°57'S 33°57'W 26 9.09 3815 3724
12 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde Joe Seeten 10°31'S 34°22'W 11 7.63 3915 3824
13 Simone Bianchetti 28°41'S 40°15'W 358 9.02 5054 4963
14 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 49°03'S 57°24'W 34 14.1 6524 6433
15 DDP - 60ème Sud Didier Munduteguy 56°28'S 66°18'W 100 9.49 7093 7002
16 Wind Pasquale de Gregorio 52°36'S 96°30'W 121 8.44 8182 8091

*Ranking ­ A series of waypoints marking a logical route have been used to calculate the rankings. The boat is ranked according to the waypoint it is nearest to.

**Average Speed - this is an instantaneous reading

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