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14 February 2001, 11:43 am
Desjoyeaux Closes In On Ultimate Victory
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The Race HQ for the Vendée Globe has installed itself back in Les Sables d'Olonne in preparation for the arrival of the leaders this weekend. Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) is expecting his arrival to be Saturday 10th February in the afternoon, and Ellen Mac...
Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), with 700 miles to go, was able to appreciate better conditions at sea today. Even if the wind had eased off and brought the average speed down a knot, slightly calmer weather and gentler seas were what he had yearned for yesterday in order to have a more comfortable ride. "I've still got 20/25 knots of North Westerly wind. I was able to stay on the end of this depression for longer than expected so I'm making good progress." PRB is still hitting superior speeds of around 15 knots. At the point of Cape Finisterre (North West point of Spain), he will have to negotiate one final lighter patch of wind, before picking up the South Westerly breeze in the new low pressure system, which will take him right to the line.

Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) has slowed a little this morning, already in this ridge of calmer breeze, and is herself waiting for the new system to get going again straight to the finish. These weather systems roll in from the West and so this last one will reach her first and Kingfisher should keep good boat speeds until Les Sables D'Olonne. A revised ETA for Ellen is looking now like Sunday afternoon. Logically, if she is the first to hitch a ride on this depression, she will thus reduce the mileage between herself and the leader, however with nearly 200 miles of water between them, it may seem unlikely that she will threaten Desjoyeaux on pure boat speed alone.

Ellen, with the finish line in her sights, has been thinking about what lies ahead. "I've lost the good winds but I'm expecting more to arrive - soon I hope! I think that the depression coming in is not as strong as expected. I think I'll be in on Sunday evening, it will all depend on the depression. I'm not quite so tired now. It will be so weird to actually finish.. My life is here, home is on board Kingfisher with water surrounding us. I just adore being at sea and to suddenly stop this will not be easy at all. I really don't want to stop. I really want to just see my family, my friends, the Kingfisher team, my dog, who I miss a lot"

Desjoyeaux too is in philosophical mood. "We knew before the start that the computers were telling us that we could go round the world in 93 days. Now we are going to do it in 95. The boats have the potential to do it in 90. We've had good conditions for a good timing. Four years ago, Christophe (Auguin) didn't have such good conditions. The boats are high performance machines but when you see PRB's state: it would have been hard to go faster. But in the Vendée Globe it's not just the record that is important.

Ranking polled at 0400UTC 9/02/01

Boat Speed DTF DTL
1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) 17.4 499 0
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur) 14.4 736 237
3 SILL Matines La Potagere (Jourdain) 13.4 1495 996
Philippe Jeantot
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