119th day of the race for Anne LIARDET. The young woman is now only 220 miles from the joy and honours of the finish, as she is to become just the third woman to complete the Vendée Globe. Catherine CHABAUD was the first to achieve this in 1996-97. She finished in sixth place after more than 140 days at sea. Ellen MACARTHUR was to remain on everyone's minds after taking second place in the 2000-01 edition in just over 94 days. In other words, it is quite a magnificent performance that we are witnessing from Anne aboard her solid boat, which nevertheless dates from an older generation (Briand-Lombard design from 1989). Just a few hours away from the end of her voyage, Anne does not feel at all tired. Just a little on edge, as she thinks about going from the excitement of life at sea back to the humdrum life ashore. 'I don't think I'll get much sleep tonight,' she admits.
This Vendée Globe has once again revealed some fabulous characters. Anne LIARDET, with her passion and enthusiasm is one of them, full of charm and humour. Raphaël DINELLI (Akena Verandas) is sailing to the north of the Azores not far astern of Patrice CARPENTIER (VM Matériaux), who has been sailing outside of the official race, since he stopped for repairs in New Zealand. The two men even chatted a little yesterday, as they passed to the west of the island of Sao Miguel. They are heading back downwind on the western edge of the high.
Raphaël has just had a really great day covering 285 miles over the past 24 hours (averaging 12 knots). 'I'm turning things up,' he explained, 'but remaining sensible with two reefs and the staysail to look after the boat.' Raphaël will thus head up to the latitude of Brittany and try to enter the calm zone without getting stuck at the heart of the high. He will then be able to gybe and head straight for the finishing line in a north westerly wind on the port tack. Dinelli believes he will be arriving in Les Sables on the afternoon tide on Thursday. We shall see… 'I'm making some headway. The south easterly wind picked up this morning, but the seas are still heavy.'
Karen LEIBOVICI (Benefic) has reached the weather system that has been propelling Raphaël DINELLI along now for 48 hours. She is making headway north towards the Azores, in order to stick with the downwind flow for as long as possible. 'The boat is under less stress on this tack. I'm making decent headway without having too much canvas up….'