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8 January 2004, 09:19 am
Adrien down under Tasmania
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From anguish to euphoria, there's only one step or rather one weather pattern that Jean-Luc VAN DEN HEEDE slowly made his way through during the last 24 hours at the helm of his large monohull Adrien (26 m), as he heads towards the Australian continent.
Checking in at midday off Tasmania, which he will leave above him after only 60 days sailing, since he left the tip of Brittany, VDH has picked up some winds on the beam - 20 knot northerlies - which are sending him along at a respectable speed of 12 knots towards Cape Leeuwin. Van den Heede now has 15 and a half days' lead over the singlehanded record for going round the world backwards (against the prevailing currents and winds) held by Philippe MONNET in 151 days 19 h 54'36'' since 9 June 2000.

Struggling against the damp

The weather conditions are exceptional close to the Antarctic polar circle and are particularly appreciated by the former maths teacher, after he spent a night on deck manoeuvring in little puffs of wind. "The wind has finally returned and today, I'm sailing along the 55th parallel south with some favourable winds in a zone, where the weather is constantly changing. The sea is either violent, which was the case for the past two days, or splendid like today. And then there are times with no wind, like last night," said the single-handed yachtsman from Amiens, before he complained, "more than the cold, you have to fight all the time against the damp, which gets in everywhere aboard Adrien, and I'm struggling too to keep it out of the old man himself. Even if I was wearing waterproofs on deck, and several layers of fleeces, then took them off inside to try to dry my clothes, there's nothing you can do about it. My duvet is wet, as are all the papers on the chart table".

The radar is watching out for squalls

"A huge depression is heading towards me" revealed Jean-Luc to finish, "I've therefore taken the decision to head up 3 degrees of latitude for the next two days to avoid hitting it head on!". While waiting to "round Cape Leeuwin at the south westerly tip of Australia in ten days, which marks another stage in the global venture", Adrien's skipper continues to watch out for squalls. "My radar is permanently on, sweeping the surface of the water for six miles around, ready to detect the smallest iceberg".
Véronique Guillou
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