Vendee Globe - 1230 - 18/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as the Southern Ocean asserts its true self

Monday December 18th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The weather is now falling into a much more predictable Southern Ocean pattern, and we are seeing the accordion effect. The low pressure systems travel west to east, moving faster than the boats. These systems compress the fleet as they arrive at the back, providing strong breeze to carry the tail-enders towards the leaders. But as the system moves east over the fleet it drops the back boats first, and gives the leaders the opportunity to re-extend their lead.

Weather at 0000, 19/12/00It's also now clear that the ridge of high pressure poking down into the Southern Ocean will have an impact, slowing everyone for a while. But it won't last for long as the next low pressure has already got the fleet lined up, and in fact the race office have issued a weather warning to the back of the fleet, so intense is the low.

The high is definitely the quiet before this storm, as Ellen reported this morning, "We now have light winds, we’re reaching at 12 to 15 knots and positioning ourselves for the huge depression which is coming in behind. It's going to be a big one, and last for quite some time. The guys further back must be in it now."

They certainly are, a telex to the Race Office from Javier Sanso, in 16th place aboard Old Spice, reported last night, "I guess the low it’s a little bit faster than expected. Tonight I have winds steady 55 gusting to 70 knots. I was sailing under 35 knots and suddenly wind went to 50. I thought the anemometer was broken but the next gust was 60 and that definitely scared the hell out of me."

It looks like this is going to be the first real big one to hit the fleet. The centre is a long way south, running right along the edge of the Antarctic, so everyone will be hit by the strong westerlies - and the further south you are, the worse it will be.
Click for new window with link to Virtual SpectatorMap images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.

Please note that two different methods of calculating the Distance to Finish are being used, one by Virtual Spectator and one by the Vendee Globe Race Office, we will try to always make it clear which we are using!

Link to the madforsailing form guide.

Rankings (0600 GMT except where stated, Monday 18/12, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)

1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) 48S 95.4E 13810 nm
2 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) (at 02:03 GMT) 48.3S 91.1E +88 nm
3 Aquitaine Innovations (Parlier) (at 02:00 GMT) 48.4S 86.4E +268 nm
4 Sodebo (Coville) (at 01:04 GMT) 50.1S 83.3E +401 nm
5 Kingfisher (MacArthur) (at 02:00 GMT) 48.3S 82.4E +407 nm
6 Active Wear (Thiercelin) (at 02:00 GMT) 49.3S 81.5E +417 nm
7 Solidaires (Dubois) 50.2S 79.2E +555 nm
8 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) 48.2S 77.3E +635 nm
9 Whirlpool (Chabaud) 50.3S 76E +682 nm
10 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 47.3S 74.1E +784 nm
11 Voila.fr (Gallay) 46.3S 63.6E +1209 nm
12 VM Matériaux (Carpentier) 47.1S 63.4E +1213 nm

Other British
15 Team Group 4 (Golding) 47.3S 37.3E +2268 nm

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