Vendee Globe - 1230 - 11/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as Desjoyeaux moves into the lead

Monday December 11th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
A major turn-around in the Vendee Globe over the weekend, with Yves Parlier giving up the lead that he's held for so long. We thought on Friday that Parlier seemed to be heading for a major hole in the road, as the weather forecast had him diving straight into a high pressure system. He hit that pot-hole good and hard and the wheels came off - Parlier slowed in the light air, then got caught too far south and on the wrong side of the next low pressure incoming from the east. In the Southern Hemisphere, the winds rotate clockwise around low pressure and so a Vendee Globe boat to the south of the centre is in easterly headwinds.

Fleet at 0300, 11/12/00

We can see the final moves in this drama playing out above, Parlier (green) is clawing his way north up the trough of low pressure which seems almost designed to extract the maximum amount of pain from his predicament. The pack is descending on him, flying straight down the rhumb-line on starboard gybe, eating up the gap.

But according to his latest report, Parlier may now be off and running again, "It’s been a nightmare, I was on the direct route towards the Heard Island waypoint. The boat was going at 17 knots average speed, and both weather forecasts made out that this was the best route. I fell into light airs and behind the weather was all over the place, below the depression which was passing to my north. There was a big swell, fickle winds and to cap it all - snow. Knowing that the others were going at 15 knots, that was hard to take.

"I just didn’t know how to get out of it. I climbed north often away from the waypoint. It was a near miracle when I saw the weather files from Météo France, there was a front passing to my north. I battled hard upwind to get into it. Last night the wind turned 180 degrees from north-east to west. Little by little the wind rose to a crescendo of 50 knots and the sea was smooth. Working the boat was exhausting but just glad to get out of this trap! ... I could see all my hopes for the Vendée Globe dashed from this mistake. Today I really believe it! But I’m keeping my chin up!"

All this has caused the biggest turn-over we've yet seen in the leaderboard. Michel Desjoyeaux (red) skipped around the high pressure to the north to take the lead, followed by Roland Joudain (royal blue). Jourdain was the first to gybe back though, and he has cut the corner on Desjoyeaux to keep the gap on the leaderboard down.

Parlier is now almost 140 nm behind Jourdain on the latest Race Office rankings (page 3). And the chasing pack of Marc Thiercelin (light brown), Thierry Dubois (purple) Ellen MacArthur (light blue) and Thomas Coville (orange) are only a hundred or so miles away. It wouldn't take much for Parlier to find himself right in amongst this group - given that his lead over them was around 400 nm three days ago, that's an amazing turn-around and a disaster for Parlier.

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