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24 January 2005, 09:54 am
Golding Closing On Le Cam
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Vendée Globe

Since the passage of the equator five days ago, things have gone pretty much to plan. To round the anticyclone by its westerly side so as to catch a southerly flow synonymous with fast sailing, the leading trio has not hesitated in distancing itself by over 500 miles from the direct course.
Vincent RIOU (PRB) is leading the way, with a lead which is melting with each ranking. Mike GOLDING is down to within 31.7 miles of LE CAM again after a third halyard breakage.

In 24 hours, Vincent RIOU has lost 50 miles to Jean LE CAM (Bonduelle) and 61 to Mike GOLDING (Ecover). Less than 10 days to the finish - probably Tuesday 1 February - the Vendée Globe podium is far from decided.

Sébastien JOSSE (VMI) and Dominique WAVRE (Temenos), in the Northern hemisphere since yesterday, are tackling the Doldrums at 4 knot averages. Behind them, in the Pacific, Anne LIARDET (Roxy) is continuing her fine progress towards Cape Horn. Tomorrow morning, in 12th position, she will finally leave the Southern Ocean. She will have spent an extra 17 days longer there than Mike GOLDING (Ecover), the fastest between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. The latter spent just 31 days in the 'land of shadows'. The throttle is within reach.

From this evening, the North-Easterly trades will veer round to the East, then South-East for Vincent RIOU (PRB). Of course his lead in the ranking is diminishing, but Vincent is continuing to sail 180 miles further North than his two pursuers. As a result he will hit downwind conditions which will be pumped up by the depression over Newfoundland. This acceleration will propel the leader towards the finish at high speed. For the 77th day of sailing, PRB has covered just 110 miles towards Les Sables d'Olonne. This figure, will in less than 48 hours' time rise above the 350 mile barrier again. Behind him, Jean LE CAM (Bonduelle) and Mike GOLDING (Ecover) will be able to 'cut the corner' thanks to a favourable evolution of the anticyclone. All of a sudden they are likely to make up part of their deficit.

The end of this Vendée Globe will be a veritable sprint. Skippers and machines will have no respite. The only thing for sure is that the top trio will arrive in Les Sables d'Olonne in less than 24 hours of each other. The order on the podium still completely open for now.

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