Vendee Globe - 1230 - 29/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as the accordion begins to contract again

Friday December 29th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The situation in the Southern Ocean remains unstable, as the weather systems swirling off the tip of New Zealand insist on making life difficult for the skippers. Michel Desjoyeaux (red) has run smack into that vague area of light air and high pressure that we talked about yesterday, and seen his lead tumble to less than a hundred miles, as Roland Jourdain (dark blue) comes up to him on the northerlies from the big low pressure.

Fleet at 0300, 29/12/00

But Jourdain will also soon begin to slow as he hits the wall. Ellen MacArthur (light blue) has already made some gains, following in the wake of these two, she's reduced Jourdain's lead to about 175 miles, while increasing her distance ahead of fourth placed Marc Thiercelin to 240 miles. No obvious reason why, except Thiercelin's comments yesterday that he wasn't happy, "running behind little Ellen" - which ought to have got the skipper of Kingfisher well cranked up!

But with everyone running on close to the same latitude, this is all just more of the accordion effect, by which the passage of weather systems in relation to the fleet extends and contracts the distances between them. And it won't be long before what goes around comes around, and the gaps start opening again.

Weather at 0300, 29/12/00

We can see from the bigger weather picture (above) that a new low pressure system is forming in front of Michel Desjoyeaux, as forecast yesterday. This is set to deepen quickly through Friday, erasing that weak high pressure currently barring his progress like so much old news.
Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.

continued on page 2

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