Thierry Dubois (Solidaires), the next skipper to arrive imminently in Les Sables d'Olonne, albeit out of the official race rankings, has entered the Bay of Biscay surrounded by light winds.
The forecast is for the wind to build and turn Northerly, ideal sailing conditions to sail the final 340 miles into port. All being well, Dubois is expected in on Monday afternoon, and at the latest Tuesday morning.
Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool), cruelly knocked out of the race rankings after her dismasting, left the port of Vigo at 0900 UTC on Sunday. Whirlpool's jury rig was built in a short morning with her crew, a task which may have taken her 48 hours to complete alone at sea. The jury rig consists of a carbon-fibre spar with a gooseneck fixture, which allows lateral and vertical movement of the boom, and a small 9.5 metre high carbon-fibre mast. Catherine cracked a lumbar vertebrae during a fall on board and so she was relieved to be taking 3 crew with her on board. She is the next in line to arrive on Tuesday.
Mike Golding (Team Group 4), off the Portugese coastline, is pushing Northwards in the light breeze blowing directly against him to get round the corner at Cap Finisterre. He expects a Westerly flow to arrive tomorrow to carry him more swiftly to the finish line for an ETA of Wednesday. Before then he must climb a few more degrees in longitude to catch this favourable wind. If Golding crosses the line before 15:48:49 UT on Wednesday 28th February he will have beaten Marc Thiercelin's (Active Wear) time and be the fourth fastest around the world in this edition of the Vendée Globe.
Sadly, his fellow British skipper, Josh Hall (EBP - Gartmore), has been cheated of his 8th place by Bernard Gallay (Voila.fr) this weekend. The French skipper has a marginal lead of 34 miles. Gallay and Hall used to crew together on the same boat under Sir Robin Knox-Johnston's tuition, but surely Hall is not best pleased to see his old companion ahead of him so close to the line. Recognising that Hall has reported sail and fuel problems on board, this race is picking its victims without remorse. These two skippers are due in on Thursday, depending on the weather conditions.
Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) has good an bad news: "Yesterday I covered 274 miles in 24 hours, which is excellent for my average and gets me ahead of my schedule again. I shall re-do my ETA when out of the Doldrums. I have an advantage with this jury rig in the North East trades. Being shorter, there will be less windage, but I shall have the perfect sail area, and so should achieve a good average speed. I am also working to adapt my genoa, a really major task but should aid my acceleration even more! However, the fishing is a total disappointment. I've only had one flying fish leap on the deck and nothing caught on the lines. So it's back to seaweed and freeze-dried for now."
Joe Seeten (Nord Pas de Calais / Chocolats du monde) has reached more wind but still life at sea is precarious: "The whole night, there were violently stormy, thunderous clouds passing overhead, and I don't think I've stopped working the boat on deck for the last 2 or 3 nights." Patrice Carpentier (VM Materiaux) has boosted his morale with the return of the wind as well. "It's building gradually. I can feel my progression North with the freshening temperature. This is the first time in a week that I've had some good wind. I am somewhat frustrated about losing so much over Joe & Bernard. It's not surprising - I've only sailed 300 miles in 3 days."
Italian skipper Pasquale de Gregorio (Wind) has had to take a rain check on his "shower and body disenfection" thanks to his boat pitching into the waves head on in 25 knot Westerly winds. "The Argentinean weather forecast was speaking today of a cold front behind me moving toward NE, bringing winds from NW to SW that should last all evening/night." He is greatly encouraged hearing about all the skippers on arrival saluting the 'grand old man' of the Vendée Globe for his perseverance at the back of the fleet, with a good month at sea still to endure on his 50 footer 'Wind'.
Predicted Finising Times
Thierry Dubois (Solidaires) - Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning
Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) - Tuesday evening or Wednesday
Mike Golding (Team Group 4) - Wednesday
Boat Skipper Speed DTF
1 PRB Desjoyeaux Arrive - 93d 3h 57m 32s
2 Kingfisher MacArthur Arrive - 94d 4h 25m 40s (+ 1d 0h 28m 8s)
3 SILL Matines La Potagere Jourdain Arrive - 96d 1h 2m 33s (+ 2d 22h 5m)
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin Arrive - 102d 20h 37m 49s (+9d 16h 40m 17s)
5 Union Bancaire Privee Dominique Wavre Arrive - 105d 2h 45m 12s (+11d 22h 49m 17s)
6 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville Arrive - 105d 7h 24m (+12d 3h 26m 28s)
Ranking polled at 0700UTC 26/2/01
Boat DTF Speed
7 Team Group 4 (Golding) 596 7.25
8 Voila.fr (Gallay) 841 5.72
9 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 863 6.58
10 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) 1328 9.5
11 VM Materiaux (Carpentier) 1694 8.13
12 Aquarelle.com (Bianchetti) 2528 2.97
13 Aquitaine Innovations (Parlier) 3348 9.3
14 DDP - 60ieme Sud (Munduteguy) 4486 8.8
15 Wind Telecommunicazioni (de Gregorio) 5546 7.85