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12 December 2004, 10:32 am
Golding Shovelling On The Coals
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Vendée Globe

Over the last 24 hours, (from 10h GMT on Saturday to 10h GMT on Sunday), Mike GOLDING (Ecover) covered the greatest distance of all the fleet clocking up 339 miles (with an average speed of 14.1 knots). In so doing, the British yachtsman won back 62 miles from the leader and is now only 412 miles behind. Having left Cape Town behind, Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto) has entered the forties and is now less than 400 miles from the penultimate racer Raphaël Dinelli (Akena Vérandas).

The race is taking on a new turn for Jean-Pierre DICK (Virbac-Paprec), who has once again broken his gooseneck. Jean-Pierre had already experienced similar damage before passing the Cape Verde Islands. He had replaced this part, which is the joint between the boom and the deck, when he was on the Equator, thanks to a spare one he had with him. Fearing the worst, he fortunately had set off with two spares. For the moment, he is on a route to the north, looking for more clement waters and planning his repair job.

As for Joé SEETEN (Arcelor Dunkerque), he is still anchored in a bay off Pig Island (l'île aux Cochons) in the Crozet Islands, where he is trying to repair his port rudder smashed by a UFO (an unidentified floating object). Joé had already replaced his starboard one with a spare last Thursday in a twenty-minute repair, after it too was smashed by a UFO. This time, he had to anchor to remove the broken rudder, repair it with some stratification before working on the refit it and setting sail again. On Sunday at noon, Joé Seeten had finished the stratification and was resting, while everything dried. He will then face another problem. To put the rudder back, Joé needs his anchor to keep the rudder upright under the water. He already lost one anchor, when he was changing the rudder last Thursday. His second is currently being used to remain anchored in the Bay.

Between today and tomorrow, Vincent RIOU (PRB) and Jean Le CAM (Bonduelle) will be entering the gateway set up to the south west of Australia, exactly 1000 miles from the coast. The Race Director, Denis HORAU, explains the reasoning behind this: 'The MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre) of Australia, based in Canberra, with whom we are in close contact, asked us to establish two gateways in a radius of 100 miles from their two military bases, where the Orion PC3 and Hercules are ready to take off. By respecting this distance, they are capable of flying for three hours over the rescue zone. Beyond 1500 miles, the MRCC has clearly told us they will not take off.' Let's take a look at how they get through a gateway, with an example of particular interest to the race leaders. The axis of this gateway is situated on the 47th parallel. This imaginary gateway is 400 miles wide and allows them to go through between 103°and 113° East.

According to the 10 o'clock rankings, we can already see that Jean Le CAM has repositioned himself to the north by sailing on the port tack. In any case, this weaving up and down will continue until at least Wednesday, until he reaches the longitude of Tasmania, which marks the end of the Indian Ocean. The two frontrunners, but also the following three are going to be sailing in the tail of the low, which has gone over them. In other words, they are in a strong west-north westerly flow of 30-40 knots, where the skippers will have to keep coming around (by 5 to 15°max). 'In the Southern Hemisphere, the tails of the lows are less active in terms of squalls than with us,' explained Sylvain Mondon, of Météo France. 'The sky is very bright and clear, and the quiet seas will allow them to progress rapidly once again.'

Behind, the competitors are going to get caught by the low that is currently situated to the South of the tip of Africa. It is a very active low, which on Monday night should generate winds averaging 45 knots and huge seas, which are likely to be worse than the leading group has experienced over the last couple of days. Taking into account how deep it is and the way it is moving, the yachtsmen will probably be forced to the north of the Kerguelens.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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