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20 January 2005, 10:40 am
Golding Closing the Gap
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Vendée Globe

Remarkable as it may seem, the current speed of Vincent RIOU (PRB) continues to suggest that he is free of the Doldrums after just 10 hours at a reduced pace. In the past four hours second placed Jean LE CAM (Bonduelle) has lost around twenty miles on the leader, his speed now back up again in the last half hour.
Third placed Mike GOLDING (Ecover) has not suffered any speed penalties for now, closing to within 60 miles of Le Cam at almost double the four hourly average, the anticyclonic zone increasing by the hour. Symbolically perhaps, the trend for the Northern Atlantic is for high pressure in all senses of the term...

Having fixed his Fleet 77 yesterday night, Jean LE CAM is now able to receive satellite images of the weather like his compatriot Vincent RIOU. Doing without this unquestionably useful tool since prior to the Horn, this is doubtless a welcome travelling companion, especially in the Doldrums. Mike GOLDING has been sailing without this device since just after the start and though it's impossible to say whether or not it would have affected the current state of play, it would certainly have helped in his decision making and his chosen course through the various weather systems...

Making excellent averages Josse and Wavre are likely to be headed gradually today, the pressure increasing this evening and tomorrow. Dick is in a transition phase right now and will have to shift back onto course at some stage. Moloney has lost a bit of ground to Seeten after suffering 50 knot headwinds overnight on the wrong side of a depression, the wind now dropping to give him around 20 knots of downwind. Seeten is likely to make good progress close to the route today.

Humphreys and Schwab are in favourable north north-westerly winds which are likely to back during the day. Parnaudeau is in favourable, sustained Westerlies about a day from the Horn. He is likely to have 40/45 knots of North-Westerly wind for his passage with gusts of 60 knots. Fortunately the fairly big seas will be coming from a decent direction so they won't be breaking too much. For the tail of the fleet (Liardet/Dinelli/Leibovici) are in high pressure, conditions likely to freshen up, Leibovici on the edge of a front in better airs

Kate Jennings
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