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Vendee Globe - DIY in the Southern Ocean

by Philippe Jeantot 5 Jan 2001 15:57 GMT

As the leaders are approaching Cape Horn, they start to see the end of the tunnel. Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines - La Potagère) has revealed the reality of his situation and described the problems he has had in the last three weeks.

On the 16th of December, off the Kerguelen islands, as he was sailing with his solent and a reef, his mainsail rail broke at the first reef level and then an hour later his genoa unrop ed from the forestay on 3 meters...

"I crossed the Indian and the Pacific ocean with two reefs in the mainsail and the gennaker or the staysail. I couldn't use the genoa anymore. Below 20 knots of wind, I haven't got enough sails up. I miss power which is why Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) has outdistanced me a bit and that Ellen (Kingfisher) managed to pass me. It's frustrating to sail a Ferrari with a 2 hp engine. After Cape Horn, I will look for a shelter to have flat seas and start repairing. I can get a piece of rail at the bottom and fix it instead of the broken one. I can't make any mistake. That's why I really need to find a shelter, I will also repair my genoa."

The competitors sometimes keep secret the damages that happen to them because of the immediate psychologic effect it could have on the others. To know that your nearest rival is penalised by such or such damage could make you change your strategy. You only announce the facts once it is sorted or when it doesn't matter anymore.

Michel Desjoyeaux, hasn't hidden his engine failure. He told us this morning how he had tried many solutions which finally worked out yesterday. With a system of blocks and ropes he has managed to transfer the boom power to the alternator's block. He rolls a rope around this block (like on an outboard engine). As he hasn't got enough power to pull with just his own human strength, he has attached another rope at the other end of the boom. When everything is ready to start (injector slightly unscrewed to minimize the compression, pre-heating doneŠ) he trims the boom in the axis as he sails beam wind. When all the system is stiff enough, he eases, in just one go, the main sheet. The wind force on the sail drag the rope along which transform on the engine in a rotating movement and starts the diesel. " I have never been so happy to hear an engine. I kept the batteries being charged during three hours. The system has worked once, so it should work again. I am really relieved as things were not so simple in the last few days. I need 5 minutes to install the system, it's not as handy as a normal key, but at least I can start my engine."

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) could also play in a Mac Gyver movie, and probably deserves the gold medal. Not only he has quite a lot of work to rebuilt a 18 meters mast from his two tubes sections, but he also has to face chemical problems. The resin doesn't harden below 20 degrees celsius. The temperature onboard is 8 degrees. Yves, to laminate his mast extension, must built around his mast a sort of little oven with some survival blankets. Once sealed, he brings some heat with five light bulbs of 25 Watts each. If this is not enough, he is thinking of installing some pipes around the extension, and to put some hot water from his engine water cooling system in a close circuit. With the two combined systems, he believes he will be able to get 30°C that he will have to maintain for 2 days to be have a perfect cure of the resin.

"Many experiences remind me of what I am living now, and have prepared me for today. All my inspiration comes from Moitessier's books. He was the best in doing big projects with nothing or not far from it.!" he says.

The Vendée Globe is a race but also an adventure without stop over and assistance. It means that if you have to stop, it's not just a penalty... you are disqualified. The rules are clear. When the skippers take the start they know that the race can change of face, and that instead of the helm they might have to use the tools for a longer time than wished. But it's the price to pay to stay in the race. That's what makes this race so beautiful. The skippers must be able to do everything, and if possible the best in the multiples jobs.

At this game, Ellen MacArthur, the youngest of the Vendée Globe's fleet is really doing well. She has just passed Roland Jourdain as he had his own problems, and she is, after 58 days at sea, in second position. When she heard it this morning she was really happy.

Radio Chat Extracts

Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines et La Potagère) - " The 16th of December, I was sailing downwind with one reef and the solent near the Kerguelens when my mainsail's rail broke at the first reef. I had to drop the sail, pull the traveller with the headsail stucked...a big mess..then, straight after that, my genoa unroped from the fore stay on 3 meters... that's it... Since then, neither my mainsail nor my genoa have been above the second reef, which explains a bit my lack of performance. So, since 3 weeks, I am sailing a Ferrari with a 2hp engine! and yesterday it was liking having a Vespa engine because the halyot's snap shackle broke and the sail went into the water, under the boat... I took me a long time to get the sail back on board and the halyot up in the mast...

Onboard, it hasn't been easy, I can tell you! My objective is to reach Cape Horn as soon as possible, then find calm waters and repair... I haven't yet found the flat seas I need. I first thought to stop in New Zealand, in the Macquaries Islands... but no, I decided to keep going, I will anchor or drift along somewhere, there must be no swell, or chopped sea. "

Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) - " I carry on doing my repairs. I haven't done any new pieces for the moment. Five minutes ago, I started heating a mast section with some bulbs. I am using Dr Chauve's thermometer to check the temperature. I would need 4 days at 20°, I would like to have 40°. I am going to heat the inside of the mast with the bulbs. And outside I am thinking of butane (gaz).

Many experiences remind me of what I am living now, and have prepared me for today. When I was 14 year old, I build a boat myself with absolutely no budget. I installed some wheels to transport it behind my bike... With this boat I was sailing on the lakes around. I am used to do things with nothing. When I was reading Moitessier, he said he wanted to go round the world on a paper boat, built with old newspapers. If Moitessier thought that, it means you can really do things from nothing. I feel like I am living my own "Longue Route" today."

Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) - " Usually I find it hard to sleep when the engine is on, and now it's no problem !. It's fabulous then, you can use everything. I still need to be careful as I need the wind to do it. I have enough diesel. As soon as the computers are shut down I have finished my navigation. During the 4 days where I was sailing like a blind, I knew what to do weather wise but I had to reduce the sails area. I think I have lost 50 or 80 miles. Without my problems, the gap would still be 400 miles. I think I will arrive between the 9th and the 12th at Cape Horn. "

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) - "I am second? Great! it's really nice! Yesterday I didn't push the boat too hard as I was really tired. I slept a lot because during the night I did lots of sails changes. I took a day off. The sun is there, it's good! Now the wind is coming from 270, 17-20 knots. All is fine onboard, I slept and I ate well. I slept 5 hours max., and the day before yesterday it was worse because of the icebergs. The routing said it was better in the South but there is a little ridge coming from the North, just near where Wavre is. I preferred to take the front in the North, better earlier than later... It's great that Michel has managed to repair as this problem can be really bad. For me it doesn't change much as in my mind he was still in the race."

Latest Ranking* polled at 1000hrs (UT):

   Boat                  Skipper              Lat     Long     Hd  Av.Sp  DTF
 1 PRB                   Michel Desjoyeaux    No new Argos Position            
 2 Kingfisher            Ellen MacArthur      53°13'S 125°14'W  48 12.5  9082
 3 Sill Matines          Roland Jourdain      55°46'S 127°49'W  71  8.1   +27
 4 Active Wear           Marc Thiercelin      52°46'S 129°29'W  62 13.3  +147
 5 Sodebo Savourons      Thomas Coville       52°46'S 139°45'W  56 15.4  +484
 6 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre      54°50'S 142°11'W 107 10.4  +513
 7 Whirlpool             Catherine Chabaud    52°15'S 154°09'W  68 10.6  +964
 8 EBP-Défi PME-Gartmore Josh Hall            51°25'S 158°56'W  58  8.7 +1147
 9 VM Matériaux          Patrice Carpentier   57°10'S 175°06'E  90 11.7 +1862
10 Voilà.fr              Bernard Gallay       56°37'S 173°26'E  89 12.3 +1922
11 Nord Pas de Calais    Joe Seeten           56°00'S 169°00'E  70  9.2 +2078
12 Team Group 4          Mike Golding         54°19'S 162°11'E 124 11.8 +2328
13 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier         49°08'S 161°20'E  55  3.8 +2514
14         Simone Bianchetti    48°55'S 144°52'E  83 10.3 +3050
15 Wind                  Pascuale de Gregorio 43°12'S 105°16'E  78  6.2 +4564
16 DDP - 60ème Sud       Didier Munduteguy    44°41'S  97°55'E  84  6.8 +4749
17 Old Spice             Javier Sanso         33°42'S  95°37'E  61  5   +5286
18 Modern University     Fedor Konyukhov      45°17'S  54°07'E  94  7.4 +6324

More Information:


Audio from this morning in Realplayer

I've been heading to the North on the unfavoured gybe for the past few hours, to try to make ground while I can even though the other gybe would be favoured in terms of distance to go. The system in front is filling and we risk having very light airs over the next couple of days if we are not careful.

I feel really sorry for Bilou to have to climb his mast...I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially not Bilou. I hope he sorts it out, I'm missing his company!

Yesterday I took things a bit easier, I didn't push myself quite so hard and got some extra sleep. I find it hard when the boat is not going 100% but I know I need to build up some more reserves.

Less than 2000 to go to Cape Horn...I can't wait.


More Information:


There has been no voice communication with Mike Golding on Team Group 4. He has been in touch with his technical team via fax and reports that all is well and he is once again working on his generator and batteries.

More Information:

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