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12 February 2004, 10:35 am
VDH Stuck in a Rut
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Round the World

VDH is heading back up to the Equator, but after two fine days sailing downwind, in a strong, steady wind, the yachtsman from Amiens is now stuck in a rut.
As we would expect from him, Jean-Luc VAN DEN HEEDE is still clearly able to keep things in perspective. The maths teacher is living up to his reputation and knows how to remain sensible. "It's not because the wind isn't blowing as I would hope for, that I'm going to feel all depressed. It's thanks to such tricky moments that you are able to appreciate all the more the fine days, like those I've just experienced".

Since the Cape of Good Hope, Jean-Luc had indeed benefited from ideal weather conditions until last night, when things took a turn for the worse. "The wind is sluggish and variable… In other words, the sails are flapping miserably, the spinnaker is all over the place, so I have to watch all that very closely. With Pierre LASNIER, we decided to come around and head north to try to pick up some stronger winds. I'm a little too far west, and as I can't run before the wind, I have to decide whether to tack to the left or right. Having said that, I'm not that worried, as I've got 26 days lead. So everything is fine, even if 27 days would be better … "

Around him, it's once again completely deserted. The cargo ships, fishing boats, oil rigs, albatrosses and seals have all disappeared, "like the wind and the sunshine", jokes VDH. On board, the schedule remains the same, with regular work to do setting the sails, preparing meals and maintaining Adrien. "On Sunday, I noticed that the screws on the transom fittings had worked a bit loose, so I've sorted that out. Apart from that, I've been busy drying out the fore section of the boat, which gets damp under the fore hatch, when I stow the spinnaker away. It's fairly finicky work, as you have to do it cell by cell".

The sky is overcast and there is a very heavy swell in spite of the absence of wind. Jean-Luc is in his shorts and T-shirt. "I'm heading north, and should be finding some sunshine, so everything's rosy...".
Véronique Guillou (As Amended by ISAF)
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