Vendée Globe leader, Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), lay just 355 miles from the legendary Cape Horn on Tuesday morning and was still finding himself propelled along by favourable winds to maintain a 13 knot average speed. He expects to round the Horn in the...
PRB Due At Cape Horn On Wednesday
Vendée Globe leader, Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB), lay just 355 miles from the legendary Cape Horn on Tuesday morning and was still finding himself propelled along by favourable winds to maintain a 13 knot average speed. He expects to round the Horn in the afternoon of January 10th. This will be his first passage sailing solo, although he has rounded the 'Rock' during the Whitbread on board "Cote d'Or" as a crew for Eric Tabarly. "Last time it was dark and we were further offshore. This time I hope to pass near it as I have a fascination about actually seeing this famous rock."
PRB's progress has surpassed that of his main rivals. At 500 miles from the Horn he was 500 miles from Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) - the equivalent of the Bay of Biscay. A comfortable lead, perhaps, looking at it in this way, however the 7000 mile Atlantic ascent will be hard going, mostly upwind, and thus heavily stressful on boats, which have already endured two months of stress, wear and tear. Michel admitted that he could be going 20% faster according to his routing software, which calculated that he was only at 85% of the boat's potential.
Ellen, fierce in her efforts to maintain Desjoyeaux's pace, has unfortunately made an unexpected gift to the seas. Her gennaker halyard chafed through and fell, bringing the sail down lock, stock and barrel. She blew the main halyard to stop the boat, and fought for an hour and a half to recover the sail out of the water. "My worst fears were realised as I saw the leech was damaged, and on further hauling huge rips were present. My heart sank, I hope to God we can fix it. Again up the mast." With a lengthy repair job in sight, which she doesn't anticipate before Cape Horn, despite the lighter conditions, this is sure to boost the hopes of Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagere), Thiercelin (Active Wear) and Coville (Sodebo) in hot pursuit.
Jourdain certainly knows what it's like when such disasters strike. He is at walking pace compared to the fleet leaders, stuck with two reefs in his main in light airs.. He is still set on finding sheltered waters, knowing that he must spend most of one day climbing up the mast at least three times to fix on his mast track piece and re-hoist the genoa. "Not easy moments in life to live through but we have to endure them." To anchor such a boat, when it is forbidden for the skipper to use the engine, is not simple even with the two obligatory anchors carried aboard.
Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) detailed his painstaking efforts to the Race HQ of his attempts to anchor in the bay of Stewart Island. He rudely constructed a raft out of jerricans to go in search of rocks within the high tide line to weigh down his mooring, but then the wind changed overnight and the anchor dragged. Aquitaine Innovations ended up aground on a sandy bed, which resulted in a precarious operation to pull the boat into deeper water from this raft using the anchors, in which he was eventually successful. In true Robinson Crusoe style, Parlier remains ingenious and optimistic: "The one plus point is that I've caught 10 mango-sized mussels for dinner tonight!"
For those not plagued with damage, the racing remains hard but still not very fast. With 120 miles between them, Josh Hall (EBP-Gartmore) and Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) are trying to catch Wavre (UBP) and Coville, but the weak, unstable winds are making it difficult to stage a realistic comeback. Hall commented: "We would normally expect a ride from a depression for a few days and to then find another arriving shortly after in this region, but we seem to just stagger from one poor wind area to the next."
Ranking polled at 09.00 UTC 9/1/01
Boat Skipper Speed DTF DTL
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 11.9 7488 0
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 13.5 8049 561
3 Sill Matines Roland Jourdain 6.31 8270 782
& La Potagere
Information on the current standings, updated four times daily, can be be found on the official website. Virtual Spectator is providing a highly informative graphical service via: www.virtualspectator.com