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30 January 2005, 09:47 am
Bees To The Honeypot?
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Vendée Globe

Vincent RIOU (PRB) is still sticking to his guns and heading north. He is on a course parallel to the French coastline, and the finish and the Breton sailor is not getting any closer to Les Sables d'Olonne. Critically he is waiting for the place to tack on his layline for the finish.
His closest rival, Jean LE CAM (Bonduelle), still sailing closer to the wind, has narrowed the gap considerably, as it now stands at just 33.4 miles and this has increased the speculation about a close finish. However, he has not made up any distance in latitude on the leader and, from north to south, 3 degrees or 180 miles still separate them. It will all be down to the way the centre of high pressure to the west of Ireland, where the wind is lighter, develops and moves, whether Vincent or Jean will be offered the best angle and strength of wind to take them across the finishing line.

Ahead and to the left, there is the cool composure of Riou, to the right, and catching all the time, is Le Cam's astuteness and willingness to gamble. He has managed to build up a wider gap from the east to the west, this extra purchase brings Bonduelle right into the spotlight. No question of letting things drift for Jean, who wants to take control of his own destiny.

For the moment Mike GOLDING (Ecover) is forced to play out a supporting role as this unfolds, but in third he has nothing to lose as the leaders race towards the honeypot of lighter breeze. He has narrowed the gap with Vincent to 102 miles and has the best chance to gamble.

Advantage Josse. The duel pitting the race's youngest competitor against Dominique WAVRE (Temenos) turned to the advantage of the skipper of VMI yesterday. By opting for a position further east, he picked up some fresher, steadier winds than his opponent, who got stuck in some squalls. The rivals are sailing off Mauritania on parallel routes in a transition zone before they reach the north easterly trade winds.

Jean Pierre DICK (Virbac-Paprec) will today be the sixth sailor in the Vendée Globe to re-enter the North Atlantic. The Equator lies just 80 miles ahead. Jean-Pierre is once again the fastest in the fleet, managing to cover 250 miles. His route way out to the west should ensure him of an easy passage through the Doldrums.

Joé SEETEN (Arcelor-Dunkerque) is keeping Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto) under control. The Plymouth-based skipper is still some 150 miles astern of the French sailor. Both will be picking up the trade winds. However, the easterly wind will gradually be coming around to the south east, enabling Hellomoto to hoist her large foresails and should close the gap. It will then be relatively difficult for jaunty Joé to maintain his lead, as he no longer has any downwind sails at his disposal.

Times are hard for Benoit PARNAUDEAU (Max Havelaar-Best Western), who is stuck to the west of the huge Brazilian low. Yesterday, he tried in vain to find salvation further east. He is now sailing upwind once again in strengthening winds that his nearest opponent, the American Bruce SCHWAB (Ocean Planet), is experiencing further north, allowing him to get up some more speed. Bruce now has a lead of over 530 miles over Benoit.

Anne LIARDET (Roxy) has got her machine gliding along again. She is making good headway up the Argentinean coast. Raphaël DINELLI (Akena Verandas) is taking the same route as Anne to the west of the Falklands. The south westerly wind has finally picked up and put an end to his misery.

Karen LEIBOVICI (Benefic) is the final competitor in the Vendée Globe to be sailing in the Pacific. Not long left now though. Karen is within sight of the Horn that she should be rounding later this morning.

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