Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagere) completed the Vendée Globe podium yesterday when he arrived at 1713hrs and 33 seconds in the Bay of Les Sables d'Olonne. He sailed his last few miles powering along on a reach at 14 knots under a glorious ora...
Despite not making the top spot on the podium, Jourdain can rest content with his own record. "I saw that the conditions were ideal. I wasn't keen to take such a risk so close to the finish, but I felt that my boat was telling me to go for it, so I told her 'okay, I'll give you the main with one reef and the staysail and you fly with that.' And then she went and broke the record all by herself by covering 435.3 miles in 24 hours." He in fact bettered Dominique Wavre's (UBP) record by 4.6 miles, averaging 18.14 knots, which is nearly equal to crewed multihull speeds.
'Bilou' was the first skipper to arrive in daylight, allowing the consistent thousands flocking the port a spectacular sight of the boat itself, to the sound of Breton bagpipes. The most capturing moment was when Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) & Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) climbed aboard the red & blue boat and they both lifted up Bilou in a triumph. What a beautiful podium! Bilou was heard to say. "Mich Desj and I have been friends for so long. We'll never leave each other and today a woman has come to separate us."
With 13 skippers left at sea, the Vendée Globe continues. Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) has reached better winds to propel him closer to home, which he thinks he'll reach on Saturday. His sail problems and halyard shortage complicates his progress. Thiercelin, who experienced a difficult time in the last stage of thee race four years ago when his boat was dangerously taking in water, has been plagued by rig problems this time. "I'm still not convinced by the giant spreader style of rig. Golding has had his problems. Yves also! The advantage is in fact the wing mast, but the recent boats have wing masts without needing the giant spreaders to hold them in place."
Dominique Wavre & Thomas Coville (Sodebo), brothers in suffering when it comes to anticyclonic weather, are still just crawling along at between 3 - 6 knots. Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool), still just over a day's sailing behind, has come up the Atlantic without any traffic lights blocking her path, and could still surprise the two ahead.. "I'm watching the two ahead and climbing North to search out a depression for the 16 - 17th February, which will set me on a direct heading to Les Sables d'Olonne. Wouldn't it be lovely if I hit a depression in the North before the others and then rode over the top of them both!"
Mike Golding (Team Group 4) just has 10 litres of fuel to finish the race in and is operating draconian measures to economise on consumption, including helming most of the time.
Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) is still joyfully reaching good boat speeds, to now hope more realistically of arriving before the 20th March. "I've got into Easterly winds and crossed a secondary anticyclone under spinnaker in a freshening breeze. I have hardly stopped - it's gone by as quickly as putting a letter in the post-box! I'll attack the Saint Helena anticyclone with a good breeze I'm expecting to kick in. So that would cut a normally elongated passage down to 4 -5 days." And of his nutritional status, Yves told the Race HQ that he has had to be imaginative with his stash of dry seaweed: "Lots of calcium and vitamins but no iodine. Yesterday I prepared a meal of seaweed with a compote of dehydrated banana's, strawberries and apple. Then the classic: beef with cream of seaweed. It's a bit crunchy so I try to mash it a bit. I must start a fashion for eating seaweed, and do the Vendée again just eating different seaweed recipes!"
Pasquale de Gregorio (Wind), the last skipper in the Pacific, will pass Cape Horn in 2 days, as he has 300 miles to go. In a telex he wrote of the impending conditions: "A Chilean weather forecast arrived at noontime, speaking of a complex low pressure system extended throughout 1000 miles Westward. This system encloses three depressions, two cold fronts, one warm front, and one occluded front. We could say, a perfect cocktail with all sort of bad weather ingredients."
Ranking polled at 07.00 UTC 15/02/01
Rank Boat DTF DTL Speed
1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) Arrive - 93d 3h 57m 32s
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur) Arrive - 94d 4h 25m 40s (+ 1j 0h 28m 8s)
3 SILL Matines La Potagere (Jourdain) Arrive - 96d 1h 2m 33s (+ 2j 22h 5m)
4 Active Wear (Thiercelin) 660 0 8.74
5 Union Bancaire Privee (Wavre) 1141 481 8.65
6 Sodebo (Coville) 1213 553 6.38
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud) 1641 981 9.41