Vendee Globe - 1330 - 15/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as Desjoyeaux continues to open up his lead

Friday December 15th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It's been a big couple of days in the Vendee Globe, with Michel Desjoyeaux and Roland Jourdain making what could be an important break away. The weather has developed much as expected in Wednesday's report, and Desjoyeaux did manage to catch onto the low pressure system that was so close to him - with spectacular effect.

Fleet at 0300, 15/12/00

Desjoyeaux (red) has pulled out into a 130 nm lead from second placed Roland Jourdain (dark blue), and the gap to the rest has got even bigger. Although he has recovered some distance and got the deficit back down to 371 miles this morning, Yves Parlier (green) was at one point more than 400 miles behind Michel Desjoyeaux. The chasing pack of Ellen MacArthur (light blue), Thomas Coville (orange), Marc Thiercelin (light brown) and Dominique Wavre (dark brown) remains as tight as ever, still only 16 nm separate these four.

Weather at 0300, 15/12/00

The gains and losses have all revolved around the movement of the two sister low pressure systems that we described on Wednesday, and the fronts, troughs and squalls embedded in them. Both systems are still visible in the above image of Friday morning's weather. The one now in the bottom right-hand corner, all the way to the south-east, gave Desjoyeaux his extended lead. He tagged onto the back of this before it started to move east and rode it for long enough for Christmas to come early.

It was a double whammy, because as the low pressure moved away it left a high pressure hole of lighter air behind it, into which the chasing fleet (except Jourdain) fell. Storm conditions for Desjoyeaux and Jourdain and light air for everyone else meant double portions of advantage. But as anticipated, once this eastern low pressure got moving, it did it with pace and it has now dropped the lead pair off the back.

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