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Vendee Globe...fourth boat due in tomorrow

by Philippe Jeantot on 19 Feb 2001
The Vendée Globe is still waiting for its fourth skipper, Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear), to make port. Even Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher), thinking that he would arrive today, had come
back to Les Sables d¹Olonne especially to welcome him in. Unable to stay an extra day, however, Ellen spent the morning talking to Marc & all her other friends still at sea, during the
radio session with the Race HQ instead. They all responded to hearing her voice with great emotion and congratulation towards Ellen for her achievement.

Marc Thiercelin is still fighting to get home in a South Easterly wind. Last night he was finally able to tack and head South, although he looks more like he is going towards Spain rather
than the West coast of France. 'My weather files tell me there is a North Easterly along the Brittany coast line and if I can reach them I can head straight to the line. But as I can¹t furl
my genoa I have been hampered in my progress. The boat does not feel right with two reefs in the main and genoa up in 20 ­ 25 knots of wind. Not a great yield in power upwind but at
least I've got wind.'

The high tide will only allow Marc to come in between 1100 and 1800 hrs local time. Wind obliging, he should finish tomorrow morning. One just has to trace his zig-zag route from the
Azores to understand how much difficulty he has had with the weather for the last 10 days in reaching the finish.

Dominique Wavre (Union Bancaire Privée) & Thomas Coville (Sodebo) have themselves reached better conditions, in terms of direction at least. They may not be able to leap forward at
great speed but they must be happy to be going in the right direction at last.

Unsettling for these two though is the fact that Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) has come back to 230 miles from Coville, thanks to an altogether different and better set of conditions.
'Yesterday the weather was ideal and I was reaching along under a perfect blue sky, beautiful sea and a school of dolphins jumping around the boat. Days like those remind me why I
prefer to stay at sea. It will still be tricky ahead but I shall keep the pressure on Thomas & Dominic to the end.'

Dominique Wavre feels like he¹s been on this last leg for an eternity. 'At last I¹ve got a breath of wind and I¹m on the other side of the abyss! We risk finishing upwind in light airs too.
I hope to get home on Wednesday. Thomas is coming up dangerously from behind to about 30 miles behind me now. Our Figaro style duel has been going on since Cape Horn and it¹ll
get even more competitive!'

Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) has been trying to figure out a problem with the keel hydraulics, and as Ellen has raced the same boat in the Route du Rhum she gave him some
technical advice.

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) was in fine spirits this morning after a few days sick with worry about the rig as he sailed through a small depression, and feeling sick of seaweed
too. 'I caught a 4 kilo fish yesterday which was 80 cm long: a beautiful baby so my morale is high.' Fishing is an art and Parlier describes what it takes to get a bite on the end of your
line. 'As my speed wasn¹t great yesterday I prepared myself psychologically to get fishing. The lines were ready, and I put on my ŒArcachon¹ T-shirt, so that the fish would recognise
me, as it¹s a famous French port. I hooked something but then I couldn¹t reel it in easily and it disappeared back into the sea. Five hours later the line jumped again and this time I
grabbed the victim with both hands and threw it into the cockpit. I¹m going to dry it out with some salt and make a feast fit for a king!'

Parlier also asked Ellen, his co-pilot in the Transat Jacques Vabre & Round Europe races, to ride in on his boat from the line into port when he reaches Les Sables d¹Olonne.

Mike Golding (Team Group 4) was feasting as well today, this time on wind. After being starved of the breeze for a whole day, he is finally going again and reaching 17 knots boat
speed. With Josh Hall (EBP/Gartmore) and Bernard Gallay (, they have all benefited from a lift and are on a proper heading towards home, about to go under the 2000 mile barrier.

Radio Chat Extracts

Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear): 'I¹m waiting here for the North Easterly, heading South, advancing at 10 knots. I¹ll go down to 47 degrees and then I¹ll head 60 to Brittany and then tack
again. I¹m so fed up of this I hope it¹ll be over soon. My genoa is of the same opinion I fear. I simply can¹t stick up the staysail though. The wind is cheating me from finishingŠ I was 40
miles from the Scilly Isles before I tacked back! I¹ve tried explaining to the sea that she has to let me get home, but she won¹t listen to reasonŠ

Dominique Wavre (UBP): 'At last I¹ve got a breath of wind and I¹m on the other side of the abyss! Thomas is coming up dangerously from behind. We risk finishing in light airs too.
My sails are okay, so-so, you can see the sun through my genoa and the main sail is a little worn, but I¹m going to get this boat home in one piece! It¹s been quite tough this battle with
Thomas, we¹ll finish in true Figaro style! We haven¹t seen each other but we¹ve been duelling for 5000 miles!'

Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool): 'I¹m sailing at 17 ­ 18 knots on a fantastic sea, ideal conditions, which I¹d love to have had more often. There were 5 or 6 dolphins playing around the
boat this morning. It¹s been a long time since I¹ve seen any. Days like today give me a reason to stay here at sea! I took 78 miles from Dominic last night and 53 on Thomas ­ great! It¹s
not over yet. Those two didn¹t get a chance in the anticyclone. The boat is just in fine form despite the rudder problem in the South and the keel at the start. We are just about to
traverse another ridge of weak winds and after that it will be upwind all the way home.'

Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) : 'I have a small problem with the keel, there¹s a leak of hydraulic fluid somewhere but I can¹t see it. I thought I had sorted it out yesterday. I am
navigating under wind more with my autopilot. We¹re close hauled right now. The wind has eased and the boat is taking less of a bashing. I¹m using this respite to sort out my little
problems. I think I¹ll arrive the 3 ­ 4 OctoberŠ(general laughter). Sorry I mean the 3 ­ 4 March. My memory isn¹t so good at my age.'

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) : 'I caught a 4 kilo fish yesterday which was 80 cm long: a beautiful baby so my morale is high. I¹m about to pass the point of Brazil. I¹m still aiming
to arrive on the 15th March. If you like seaweed, life isn¹t bad. If not, then it¹s no fun. Three days ago I was sick from seaweed. Yesterday I just stuck to eating fish. I¹m doing my
special weight watchers diet so I can fit into my bikini this summer. My morale dipped big time when I sailed through the depression as the boat was creaking a lot and I couldn¹t eat a
thing. Two other flying fish landed in the cockpit so I¹m going to make a feast fit for a king!'

Didier Munduteguy (DDP ­ 60ème Sud) : 'I¹m off the Uruguay coastline, not with much wind but things are fine. On the other hand my rudder is playing up, I hope it will hold out. I¹ve
still got another month at sea to go. I¹ve got 15 degrees to climb before I get to the trade winds. I crossed a whole group of dolphins, there must have been 100 of them, jumping around
the boat, it was wonderful, such an incredible sight. My first flying fish landed on deck this morning too ­ a surprise since I am still quite South.'

Latest Ranking* polled at 0900hrs (UT):

Psn Boat Skipper Lat Long Headg Av. Speed** DTF***
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux Finish: 10 February 2008hrs 32 sec
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur Finish: 11 February 2036hrs 40 sec
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain Finish: 13 February 1713hrs 33 sec
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin 47°29'N 06°44'W 155 9.73

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