Vendee Globe - 1330 - 28/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as the weather continues to taunt the leaders

Thursday December 28th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Life isn't getting any simpler out in the Southern Ocean for the Vendee Globe fleet. The low pressure system that has been playing with the fortunes of the front pack for the last week is still dominating the picture. Although it has given the leading four boats a brief respite from the strategic chess game.

Fleet at 0400, 28/12/00

There has been little change in the distances between Michel Desjoyeaux (red), Roland Jourdain (dark blue), Ellen MacArthur (light blue) and Marc Thiercelin (light brown) in the last 24 hours - all of whom now look to be in reasonable breeze to the north of the low pressure centre (above).

But Thiercelin is still unhappy about the northern gybe he took earlier, when he and Ellen both first ran into the light air in the low pressure centre. He said today, "I’d really come back, worked so hard and now I’ve lost it all! I was behind Ellen, when the wind eased off for us both. She managed to get away but I didn’t. I climbed north to avoid the centre of the depression and there I lost out again. I’m just raging, I’ve no idea why! ... Despite the poetry of it all, I really don’t like running behind little Ellen!"

But Thomas Coville (orange) has lost more to the lead group, as after finally overcoming his autopilot problem, he appears to have run into the centre of the low. But from Coville's perspective - after spending four days getting wiped flat by autopilot failure every time the boat went over ten knots - that's not all bad, he has a chance to repair the damage done during that traumatic time.

Coville commented, "Since the autopilot has been back in working order and as I start to move away from the magnetic South Pole, the boat is back on the rails again. The swelling on my hand has gone down and it doesn’t hurt half as much as it did before. I have made myself a plaster to protect it. I’ve repaired the small gennaker luff. With the remaining carbon I have reinforced the quadrant gear. I’ve still got to straighten up the pushpit to tighten the leeward guardrail. As I get through the repairs, I am getting back into the race with a new-found energy. When I went up the mast yesterday to take the elastic off the runner, I was even able to check the shrouds. Everything was fine, which is amazing when you consider what we’ve been through.

"I am making the most of it to get things sorted out. I’m tidying up and getting some cleaning done as well. I’m trying to eat well to build up my strength again. What about sleep? I haven’t put the alarm clock on for two days now. I manage to recuperate by sleeping four to five hours on the trot."

Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.

continued on page 2

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