Vendee Globe - 1230 - 19/12/00
Ellen MacArthur has now been released from her Race Office instruction to stand-by Parlier, and has rejoined the fleet. As we can see from the image above, Parlier's dismasting has turned this into a two horse race - at least for the moment. Michel Desjoyeaux (red) and Roland Jourdain (dark blue) are out on their own, only 75 nm miles between them.
Ellen MacArthur (light blue) leads the chase in third, 454 nm behind Desjoyeaux, while Parlier's (green) slide down the rankings has only got him as far as fourth so far. But Thomas Coville (orange) and Marc Thiercelin (light brown) are right behind Ellen, again less than 50 nm splits this group, and now they're chasing a place on the podium.
We can now see very clearly (above) the monster depression tracking the fleet and providing Javier Sanso with his second night in a row of winds in excess of 60 knots. This will develop a second low pressure centre that will move east, leaving the parent behind. But it's not going to do this at any great speed and it looks like the extreme conditions aren't over yet for the tail-end of the fleet.
That also means it's going to take a while for this low pressure to catch the main lead pack. From Desjoyeaux all the way back to Catherine Chabaud, the skippers are more under the influence of the high pressure to their north than the low to their east.
Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.