While the bulk of the Vendée Globe fleet are struggling in frustratingly unstable wind conditions, Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) & Roland Jourdain (Sill Matines La Potagere) have succeeded in catching a solid low pressure front, which has rewarded them with...
"Bilou [Jourdain] is not far behind. It's more comfortable now, but I won't take it easy, there's too much competition still."
Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations), still bordering on 50 degrees South, hasn't seen any doors open for him. Overnight he was heading Northwards at 3.5 knots, whilst his two rivals ahead were going 11 knots faster. Parlier will know that he is now 1 day behind the leading boat, and in the last week has lost 250 miles to Desjoyeaux. Dominique Wavre (UBP) pushed over the main point about the weather forecast. "With the complex weather charts we're receiving, the rankings could still change."
Equally tense is life amongst the second flank of boats still holding within 70 miles of each other. Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) expressed a great frustration to have lost her 4th place to Thomas Coville (Sodebo), putting it down to bad timing on a gybe. On the other hand Coville, perhaps looking more long term, admitted. "I missed the goal yesterday. Ellen gybed 1 hour earlier than me and she's 60 miles to the North now."
Josh Hall (EBP-Gartmore) knew, as Ellen and Thomas did, that the Northerly route was the option to have taken to get round the incoming depression, and they have admitted that Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) has positioned himself much better for this. For Hall it became impossible to make that gybe in predominantly Southwesterly winds and he has found himself too near the centre of the low. He is pinning his hopes on the fact that at least the middle group of boats will all be affected by the same weather.
Joe Seeten (Region Nord Pas de Calais Ð Chocolats du Monde) has broken a 20 cm section of his mast track. Joe can now only sail with 1 reef in the main sail and will have to wait until he's out of the Southern Ocean to repair this. Javier Sanso (Old Spice) has also suffered damage to his boat. The second diamond on the rigging has broken and he is heading North under the tip of South Africa to reach lighter airs to go up the mast and fix it.
After 36 days at sea, the race has been exhausting and torturous at moments. Hall confessed that his greatest emotion out here has been pure fear, when he sighted two icebergs the size of an air craft carrier. Ellen has been through a hedge backwards in emotional terms only over the last 24 hours, and admits that she has to learn not to get stressed about each mile lost. Coville remarked that this race had a natural process of elimination, and the Southern Ocean perhaps will justify that statement soon.
Ranking polled at 0850UTC 14/12/00
Boat Skipper Speed DTF DTL
1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux 14.6 14975 0
2 Sill Matines & La Potagere Roland Jourdain 14.2 15078 103
3 Aquitaine Innovations Yves Parlier 9.71 15344 369