Vendee Globe - 1200 - 30/1/01
The leaders are clear into the north-east trade winds of the northern hemisphere, and we can see from the forecast for Thursday (below) that the broader weather pattern is set for a while. The weather systems are churning away in the far North Atlantic, but the Azores High is well established and the trade winds are blowing strongly all the way down the African coast.
This will be a boat speed race until they clear the trade winds, with a subtle twist. Les Sables d'Olonne still lies to the east of their present position, so do they stick the boat hard on the wind and sail the best course they can towards the finish. Or do they keep the sails a little eased and sail quicker, but further from the direct course?
The second option relies on them finding a weather system that will take them east once they get further north. The low pressure systems in the North Atlantic are rolling from west to east, with westerly breeze on their southern edges - so there is every chance of hooking into a depression further north and blasting downwind to the finish.
Ellen is already working on the possibilities, "I’m now studying hard the conditions to the north of the trade winds, as we have to be deciding now what strategy to take - to stay close upwind and as far east as possible or crack off a little to the west and go faster. It's a real chess game. There are still lots of choices to make, and I think any of the first four boats could still pull this off over the next 3000 miles. Pretty amazing race."
It is indeed.
Map 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 (0500 GMT except where stated, Tuesday 30/1, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)
1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) (at 03:01 GMT) 4N 30W 2979 nm
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur) (at 06:00 GMT) 3.2N 29.2W +46 nm
3 Active Wear (Thiercelin) (at 06:01 GMT) 0.2S 27.4W +224 nm
4 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) (at 04:03 GMT) 0 33.2W +309 nm
5 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) (at 04:02 GMT) 11.1S 33.3W +991 nm
6 Sodebo (Coville) 12.3S 34.1W +1033 nm
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud) (at 03:20 GMT) 22.6S 32.4W +1654 nm
8 Team Group 4 (Golding) 31.3S 40.25W +2275 nm
9 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 30.5S 44.2W +2331 nm
10 Voila.fr (Gallay) 36.5S 43W +2618 nm
11 VM Matériaux (Carpentier) 38.3S 44.1W +2734 nm
12 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) 41.1S 42.4W +2861 nm