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19 December 2004, 10:47 am
A short respite
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Vendée Globe

The huge low-pressure areas are no longer threatening the fleet. From Nick Moloney (Skandia), 8th, to Conrad Humphreys (Hellomoto), in 17th place at the rear, the skippers are sailing in a general westerly flow of 25 to 35 knots.
Mike GOLDING (Ecover) is moving off on a course further north than that taken by the three leaders. Mike is once again on the attack. Today, the halfway mark was passed (11,800 miles) and the Indian Ocean is now behind them. Now, it's the turn of the Pacific with the rounding of the Horn due to occur as soon as the first of January 2005.

The entrance into the Pacific waters is not looking very easy. Ahead of them, the weather is complex, with a high-pressure ridge to cross and a low situated at a very high latitude over New Zealand. They will almost certainly be back sailing upwind before the weekend is out. This complex weather system is good news for Mike GOLDING, even if he is expecting to lose more ground in the short term. At the front, the duo of Vincent RIOU/ Jean Le CAMis continuing to make progress, and they passed the halfway mark this morning. From now on, each mile they cover is a mile closer to Les Sables d'Olonne.

During today's radio report, Ecover's skipper was sailing in a northerly flow that remained fairly strong at 25 to 30 knots, which has allowed him to cover more than 280 miles over the past 24 hours. "PRB and Bonduelle are going to continue to make headway, and I'm expecting to lose a little more ground. That's why I am trying to get in a different position. I don't want to get left behind. The situation as we enter the Pacific is very confused, and looks rather like a step backwards. There may be a stop here for everyone once again…" Mike is in the process of heading off on a course further to the north, which shows that he is on the attack, ready to take advantage of the slightest opportunity. His goal is to stay up with the frontrunners and keep as close to them as possible, as they round the Horn.

Nick MOLONEY (Skandia), in 8th position, is currently passing to the north of the first gateway situated to the west of the Australian continent. So, he is of course respecting the rules and does not need to change course. Nick is also gliding along in a 25-30 knot north westerly flow.

Hellomoto's skipper is continuing his fantastic climb back into the race. He is now only 500 miles from the Kerguelens. If Conrad HUMPHREYS keeps up this pace, he will have overtaken Karen LEIBOVICI (Benefic) by then and maybe even Raphaël DINELLI (Akena Verandas). He is only 120 miles from the latter, and Conrad has managed a fine 10-knot average over the past 24 hours.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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