Vendee Globe - 1200 - 30/1/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Ellen and Mich escape the Doldrums

Tuesday January 30th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The astonishing battle at the front of the fleet between Ellen MacArthur (light blue) and Michel Desjoyeaux (red) continues - both escaped the Doldrums last night and this morning are doing ten knots up the track. Desjoyeaux slipped away first, getting the breeze a little earlier and building a lead of 46 miles at the morning position reports for the 30th January. But Ellen is also clear of the Doldrums and matching his speed, and the stage is set for an astonishing final 3,000 miles.

Fleet at 0400, 30/1/01

Ellen spoke to the Race Office this morning, "What a relief. The last two days were so hard. We touched the trade winds finally towards the end of yesterday. Mich’s move to the west certainly paid for him as he got the wind first, and I think he got the breeze about ten hours before me - our exit ticket from the frustrations of the Doldrums.

"So I’m not surprised that he has got away, but I’m still kicking myself for my mistake three days ago when I fell asleep after climbing the mast, and let the boat head further east. I always wanted to be west, but that moment of fatigue lost me that advantage. At least the repair was done, but I can’t help thinking where I would be if I’d held that more westerly position going in to the calms." The tracks on the image (above) show clearly where Ellen let her easterly advantage slip away.

But this race is far from over, and nor can we count out either Marc Thiercelin (light brown) or Roland Jourdain (dark blue) from the final sprint to the finish. Both these two have closed the gap by another 80 or 90 miles over the last 24 hours, as the leaders struggled in the Doldrums. Thiercelin is following Ellen and Desjoyeaux, and may still have a toll to pay to exit the Doldrums. Jourdain's the man making the move, all the way to the east, it looks like he'll keep on trucking without loss through the Doldrums, the question is whether or not he will be taxed for his lack of investment in easterly position.
continued on page two

Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.

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