For the skippers sailing in the screaming fifties, Christmas has a different meaning.
They know that, far from where they are, on shore, their family, their friends are all together preparing the festivities. It's hard to ignore it. The same friends and their families have already thought about this special day and have often prepared a few things for them. All are going to enjoy a special surprise dinner, sometimes with a few drinks but never in excess. Drinking and driving such racing boats single-handed is not recommended. Despite keeping the weight down, the competitors have let their loved ones hide some presents. Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagere) even has a Santa Claus costume. He says is in charge of distributing presents to the children of the Southern Ocean starting with himself!
For those sailors alone in the deep end of the world, the most important moment will be when, with the magic of the satellite telephone, they will be able to share a few minutes with their families. The tough reality of the Southern Ocean will remind them very quickly of where they are. A new low pressure system is arriving with some winds up to 40 knots. It's cold, the deck is constantly being washed up by the waves and sailing the boat can't wait. There is no respite in the fifties. The sea doesn't allow this kind of emotions. Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) is not too concerned. "At sea I am not bothered with all these feasts. It's just a calendar thing. I much prefer to celebrate the days when I round a Cape as Good Hope, Leeuwin or Horn, also the big lines like the Equator, anti-meridian." However, with the nice weather she is encountering at the moment, she has offered Whirlpool a good 'Christmas cleaning'. "
The temperature is very low. The water is at 4°, outside it's no more than 5° and inside the boat just 7° when it's day light. During the few hours of the night, it's really freezing. Inside the boat, the humidity level is at his highest and everything is wet. It's hard to live like that and it's tiring. Unfortunately it is useless to add more layers of clothes, as the humidity goes everywhere.
Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear), who has been doing really well in the past hours, with very good average speeds, got scared a few times when his boat broach and his mast nearly went in the water: "I took my time to clear the mess, as I didn't want to break anything, and finally it all finished well. It was more frightening than it hurt".
Mike Golding is preparing to spend his 5th Christmas at sea in the Southern Ocean. He still has a complicated repair to do on his genoa furler, and he has to climb at the head of the mast, which is impossible to do at sea. Mike has planned to anchor in the South of the Kerguelan Islands to do the repair. May be he will see the French people living on this Island.
Ranking polled Saturday
Boat Skipper Speed DTF DTL
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 15.2 12430 0
2 Sill Matines & La Potagere Roland Jourdain 14.5 12432 2
3 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur 14.7 12645 215
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