Vendee Globe - 1330 - 1/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as the fleet splits

Friday December 1st 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The Vendee fleet have come off the freeway that was taking them down the track so quickly and easily, and we're seeing some real differences in opinion as to how best to handle the crucial next few days in the race south to solid westerly breeze.

It's the top three that have split, with leader Yves Parlier (green) and third placed Roland Jourdain (blue) both making strenuous efforts to get south in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile in second, Michel Desjoyeaux (red) has kept making steady progress to the south-east, a tactic which has jumped him to within 68 nm of Parlier on the 0700 Race Officer leaderboard (see below). Paralleling his line to the north-west of him are fourth and fifth placed Catherine Chabaud (yellow) and Ellen MacArthur (light blue).

Fleet positions at 0300, 1/12/00
Desjoyeaux is happy with the difference in opinion between him and the others, saying this morning, "I saw that my two friends have plunged south, I tried to as well but I found that that direction wasn’t that good. I shall try again today to look for a way to go a little more south.

"I have come back in terms of distance to go because Yves has gone off on starboard and dove south too early. I’m content not to have done the same as he has inevitably slowed down. He must be doing nine knots average against my average of 11.2 knots, so I did okay not to gybe too early. I am looking back and seeing that no-one (behind) has tried to dive south."

Weather at 0300, 1/12/00

The weather is developing much as we expected a couple of days ago, and we can see from the isobars and wind lines in the image above that the fleet are right in the middle of the transition from two high pressure centres and a trough of low pressure between them, to the single big South High Atlantic High that will eventually dominate.

The wind that the leaders are getting out of this weather is likely to be shifty, and they will need to work hard at the trimming and course setting to ensure they maximise their progress down the track. But at the same time, they need to figure out where they want to place the boat to take advantage of the next big change.

Weather forecast at 0000, 3/12/00The weather map for midnight on Sunday, 3/12/00 (left) shows what's expected to happen, the South Atlantic High has consolidated into a single high pressure area, and it's being barged to the north-east by an active low pressure system sweeping to the east just above the 40S latitude.

The wind circulates clockwise around low pressure systems in the Northern Hemisphere, so to the north of the centre are favourable westerly winds. In fact, it may not pay to get too far south too early, the last thing these skippers want is to end up south of the centre of that low pressure in easterly headwinds.

It looks like they need to get in front of it, in the east or north-east sector of the system and use the strong northerly winds they will find there to start driving fast and hard to the south-east. Looking further ahead on the US computer models, there's another high coming off the coast of South America behind this low, and early next week the fleet will need to be all the way down to 45S to get solid westerly breeze. Plenty for the boys and girls to work at over the weekend!
Click for new window with link to Virtual SpectatorMap images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.

Please note that two different methods of calculating the Distance to Finish are being used, one by Virtual Spectator and one by the Vendee Globe Race Office, we will try to always make it clear which we are using!

Link to the madforsailing form guide.

Rankings (0700 GMT except where stated, Friday 1/12, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)

1 Aquitaine Innovations (Parlier) 33.3S 18.21W 18658 nm
2 PRB (Desjoyeaux) 32S 18.4W +68 nm
3 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) (at 07:51 GMT) 32S 21.5W +199 nm
4 Whirlpool (Chabaud) 29.4S 20.2W +226 nm
5 Kingfisher (MacArthur) 30S 20.6W + 231W
6 Sodebo (Coville) 28.5S 21.6W +320 nm
7 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) 29S 22.2W +323 nm
8 Active Wear (Thiercelin) 29S 23.5W +380 nm
9 Solidaires (Dubois) 28.4S 23.3W +385 nm
10 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 27.4S 23.5W +437 nm
11 (Gallay) 25.4S 25.3W +590 nm
12 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) (at 06:00 GMT) 24.4S 26W +641 nm

Other British
20 Team Group 4 (Golding) 3N 24.5W +2254 nm

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