Vendee Globe - 1330 - 8/12/00

Mark Chisnell reports as Ellen MacArthur feels the icy chill of her first iceberg up close and personal - and the crashing and burning begins for Desjoyeaux and Thiercelin

Friday December 8th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Weather at 0500, 8/12/00
Weather at 0100, 10/12/00Between those two low pressure systems dominating the Southern Ocean south of Cape Town is a high forming, with very little breeze around it. Buried deep below 50S, Parlier looks to be heading straight for this pot-hole.

Parlier could be trying to hook onto the slow moving low pressure system in front of him, before the high forms around his current position. In contrast, Michel Desjoyeaux may have decided to try and make a gain by going round the high to the north.

Ellen MacArthur seems to be in agreement, especially after her close call with the iceberg, "Yesterday I was concerned about the sea temperature dropping to one degree, and this was proof of the danger that brings. Fortunately for my mind, right now the weather pattern ahead looks like I might need to make some ground to the north, so I’m going to gybe now, a little earlier, but that will put my mind slightly more at ease." It doesn't show on Virtual Spectator in these images, but the latest Race Office reports have her heading north-east.

Dominique Wavre has also gybed north, I thought yesterday that he looked like he could get stuck in headwinds on the wrong side of the low pressure, and he seems to have agreed. Wavre commented, "I look bad in the rankings as I’m waiting for a ridge with more wind to come in ... The centre of the low is passing at 46 degrees and I should catch it this afternoon. There’ll be 18 knots of wind with this dorsal which is coming ahead of the depression - pretty soft. Not exactly a real storm, although I will probably say something different tomorrow morning."

Wavre added, "It’s simple to negotiate these low pressure systems. The low catches us up coming in from the east. As it passes to our south the wind strength rises and then really blows hard. Then you have to gybe and stay with it for as long as possible." That bit may be easy, but avoiding that high isn't - we'll find out how the fleet fare as these moves play out over the weekend.

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