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26 November 2004, 04:16 pm
Ecover And Hugo Boss Into The New System
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Hellomoto, Yes

Vendée Globe

Just 242 miles north of the island of Tristan de Cunha at 1500 GMT today and 1650 miles from the next waypoint off the tip of South Africa, leader Vincent RIOU (PRB) has been sailing within sight of Jean Le CAM (Bonduelle) since dawn this morning.

The duo are just 0.3 miles apart today after being the first to escape the clutches of the Saint Helena high 1.5 days ago into a delicious west south-westerly wind. Sébastien JOSSE (VMI) and Roland JOURDAIN (Sill et Véolia) are also free now, and it would seem that the frustrated British duo Mike GOLDING (Ecover), Alex THOMSON (Hugo Boss) have also shaken off the light winds now, making 9.4 and 8.7 knots of boat speed in the past 30 minutes. Conrad HUMPHREY'S (Hellomoto) is still hammering at the exit door though and looks to be stalling in the high while Alex's more westerly option should see him stretch away from the latter, though not Mike. Further back from the heat of competition it is American Bruce SCHWAB (Ocean Planet) that epitomises the spirit of the Vendée Globe for those between 900 and 1600 miles behind the leaders today: Human Adventure...

Surprise for Jean Le CAM (Bonduelle) this morning. 'I woke up to see Vincent the Terrible zoom ahead of me though I didn't get him on my radar. He's a good reference to have. It was obviously meant to be that we have joined together today in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean this 26 November! We couldn't have hoped for a better scenario for ourselves but it's been catastrophic for the others. It's a fine day, clear skies, squalls this morning, the thermals are on and tomorrow night it'll be the socks...I haven't yet decided my strategy for the south but it's not far off now!'

The same scenario aboard PRB. 'It's going well. I am not one of the unlucky ones! said Vincent Riou today. 'I was frightened this morning. I was sleeping soundly when I heard a beep close to my boat. I came up on deck and saw the sails, it was Bonduelle. For now he is upwind and on the attack. We look pretty well placed in relation to the competition and it's nice to be able to have just one person to control. Clearly we had the right weather conditions to get where we are...I'm spending time preparing the weather for the south and clearly in terms of safety it's good to have someone alongside you in the southern ocean. For now everything is in place to open up the gap but, though it's easy to go fast when you can, you have to bear in mind that this is a round the world and we want the boats to last...'

Roland JOURDAIN (Sill et Véolia) and Sébastien JOSSE (VMI) are also on the run now making over 10 knots of boat speed and at the last ranking Mike GOLDING (Ecover) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) looked to have shaken themselves free of the Saint Helena high at last after what has been a horrendously frustrating park up for the foursome. Still in its clutches just 3 hours ago Mike was battling hard. 'I'm sailing as fast as I can to get south. Obviously I'm very frustrated' he said watching the leaders hot-foot it south at around 2 or even 3 times the speed. 'There's nothing more I could have done but I never quite got into it. I need to get into the same weather system as those ahead but I can't see that happening in the near future. The boats behind will pick up new weather again. ' Mike is the first of the British trio, positioned 5th, 6th and 7th today.

Alex THOMSON (Hugo Boss) was really suffering his westerly option now which hasn't paid the dividends hoped for but seems set to open up a lead on Conrad now, just as he was about to be overtaken. Back in the middle of the fleet, miles from the front of the fleet, American Bruce SCHWAB was sounding in great shape despite automatic pilot troubles and a sore lower back. 'I've been working on the instruments, hoping that the high pressure system will move east just a little tiny bit more! The boat is fine though I've had a few problems with my automatic pilot as there seems to be some conflict between its server and the one for the instruments. I've focussed a lot of my attention on writing about my experiences on the water as I think the Vendée Globe is a great educational platform for capturing the interest of kids and adults alike, teaching them about all that is linked with the ocean. It's much more inspiring for them to follow a real life adventure. I personally am inspired by those up front, I'm going to love watching how that pans out.'

In the next group behind Schwab, Anne LIARDET (Roxy) is in rather lower spirits after suffering automatic pilot worries but is keen to keep Benoît PARNADEAU (Max Havelaar Best Western) astern of her nonetheless (approx 50 mile deficit). Norbert SEDLACEK (Brother) completes the 20 strong fleet today, 1614.3 miles from the leader, making over 10 knots of instantaneous.

Kate Jennings (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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