Vendee Globe - 1330 - 21/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as the pack continue to close down the leaders

Thursday December 21st 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Michel Desjoyeaux (red) and Roland Jourdain (dark blue) will still have that hunted feeling today, as the rest of the fleet charges up behind them. The Race Office rankings now have third placed Thomas Coville (orange) just over 300 miles behind Desjoyeaux and Ellen MacArthur (light blue) another fifty miles behind him. Virtual Spectator has the gaps as even smaller, and this is because of the different waypoint list the two ranking lists are using. Whichever way you look at it the bottom line is the same - the gaps are closing.

Fleet at 0300, 21/12/00
We can see from the images that Michel Desjoyeaux is now on the western edge of the low pressure system that we talked about moving into his path yesterday. He's close reaching in south-south-easterly winds, and he's not impressed, "We’re sailing heeled right over! Didn’t imagine we’d be doing this so much ... I’m on the edge of the depression which is ahead of us. I’m going at a comfortable average speed, not as high as those behind as they must have 35 knots. I’m waiting for the system to change. The sea is choppy here, and I’m waiting for the wind to rotate and I can get more sail up."
Weather at 0300, 21/12/00

While the chasing group are still in great downwind conditions - provided by the major weather system that has been dominating proceedings all week - Desjoyeaux is waiting for his low pressure to move south. That will allow him to get into the westerly breeze to its north. As discussed yesterday, he's no longer too worried about the high pressure ridge that is developing between the two low pressure systems, "It’s the great dorsal (high pressure ridge) which is between the depression which I’m still in and the one which the other group are in. I’ll get held up in it this afternoon or tonight. It’s predicted in the charts or my crystal ball I have on board! I hope to stay in it for a short a time as possible. I don’t expect the distances between the positions to change from yesterday though."

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