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19 November 2002, 10:07 am
Golding Closes the Gap
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Kingfisher©Jacques Vapillon

Route du Rhum
St Malo - Guadeloupe

Mike Golding has caught up and is once again neck and neck with his rival. At 0700 GMT he was only 2 miles behind! The fight for first is closer than ever and the pressure is on between the two British sailors.
Vicious gusts up to 30 knots in the 15-20 knot breeze does not make the fast sailing easier.

Ellen MacArthur had to climb to the top of the 27 metre mast yesterday when the lashing on the gennaker halyard block broke. A very risky operation for a solo sailor, which forced her to drop the spinnaker and complete the repair job up the mast for almost two hours! "I'm safe, I'm back - I've done it... What a mission but got kite back up and racing again. Getting up the mast was not too bad although coming down was a nightmare - boat rolling around and nothing to hold on to. Honestly, I'm fine though - I just talked to myself the whole way up and back down," the brave young sailor told her shore team once she was down.

Mike Golding has caught up and is once again neck and neck with his rival. At 0700 GMT he was only 2 miles behind! The fight for first is closer than ever and the pressure is on between the two British sailors.

Vicious gusts up to 30 knots in the 15-20 knot breeze does not make the fast sailing easier. There is no time for rest, and Stève Ravussin on the leading trimaran TechnoMarine confirmed that this morning: "I have one reef in the mainsail and the gennaker up and there is no way I could have a rest!"

Lalou Roucayrol (Banque Populaire) is still progressing slowly, stuck in the anticyclone in the north, Géant is closing the gap with his fast route in the south.

Jean Le Cam finally conceded defeat yesterday evening as the repairs on Bonduelle are too numerous and the time too short. The cracks caused by the violence of the waves touch some structural parts which cannot be plugged satisfactorily in a short space of time.

WEATHER SITUATION

•The trade wind regime is still well established. Even those who made a stopover in Madeira are being gathered up in it.
•The tail runners remain in an anticyclonic area meantime. The high pressure system which has curbed the progress of Lalou Roucayrol on Banque Populaire in the past 48 hours has now moved slightly towards the south, making things even more tough.
•Today's ETA predict a finish between Thursday evening and Friday morning (Pointe à Pitre time) for the first multihull, and Saturday morning for the first monohulls.

Leading boats 07.00 GMT:

ORMA 60' multihulls: Stève Ravussin TechnoMarine
IMOCA 60' monohulls: Ellen MacArthur Kingfisher
Class 2 50' monohulls: Nick Moloney Ashfield Healthcare
Class 3 40' monohulls: Régis Guillemot Storagetek
Class 2 50' multihulls: Frank Yves Escoffier Crepes Whaou!

Josephine Lemmel/ISAF News Editor
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