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More details on Vendee Globe postponement

by Mary Ambler on 5 Nov 2000
Philippe Jeantot, the race organiser for the Vendée
Globe, announced today
in a press conference at 1500hrs in Les Sables d'Olonne
that the start for
the 4th edition of the race has been postponed for 48
hours. The 24 skippers
will now start on Tuesday 7th November at 1301hrs.

This decision was taken in a skippers' briefing earlier
in the morning, due
to the announcement of a very bad weather forecast (South
Westerly 50 knot
winds over Sunday night and Monday morning). Many could
argue that if these
skippers and their boats were ready to face the Southern
Oceans, these
conditions shouldn't deter them. However the passage from
Les Sables would
become extremely risky for the soloists with little sea
room, a lee shore,
high winds and what is more, a cut up sea ­ ie:
boat-breaking weather, in
which a skipper would not set out, given the choice.

Therefore, the majority of competitors were keen to see
the start delayed
until this extreme weather had passed. In fact, out of 24
skippers, 19 voted
for the postponement, 4 abstained, and only 1 was against
the decision.

That one happened to be the veteran Yves Parlier, who
nevertheless had these
words to add at the press conference: " I am programmed
to go on the 5th
November and the line is open for ten days. If the start
was tomorrow, I
would have taken it."

Michel Desjoyeaux: "It makes a lot of sense. If the line
had stayed open
tomorrow, it would not have been a sensible or
sportsmanlike decision."

Ellen MacArthur: "It's a good thing. Better that everyone
starts together,
and safely. In the Southern Ocean, if you were to
dismast, you have sea room
to deal with it, although it isn't easy. To dismast along
the coast with 60
knots on a lee shore, it would be like hitting a brick
wall."

Thomas Coville, Thierry Dubois and Dominique Wavre also
added that this
decision was made with a great deal of difficulty and yet
a lot of
seamanship. The rest of the organisation, the race
committee, and sponsors
were all behind the decision made by Philippe Jeantot.

This coming Tuesday the conditions will be much more
favourable for the race
start, with a good downwind run out of Les Sables
predicted. Richard Silvani
from Meteo France announced a 20 ­ 25 knot North Westerly
for the 7th
November and a better sea state.

In the meantime, the pontoons have been re-opened for the
public, and
skippers such as Joe Seeten and Yves Parlier are making
their own decisions
to go out to sea for test sails tomorrow and Monday. The
race organisers
still expect there to be a strong crowd and emotion
following the start next
Tuesday of the 4th edition of the Vendée Globe.

For further information please contact:

Mary Ambler, Magali Jousselin, Marine Crenn
International Communications & Internet Team
Vendée Globe 2000

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