Vendee Globe - 1030 - 24/1/01

Ellen and Mich extend, Ed Gorman reports

Wednesday January 24th 2001, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
Ellen MacArthur's bid for an historic win in the Vendee Globe is still on track as she and leader Michel Desjoyeaux extend at the front of the fleet in freshening easterly Trade Winds. Behind them, third-placed Marc Thiercelin and fourth-placed Roland Jourdain are stuck in light airs and the gap between them and the leaders is building.

This morning Ellen was a nominal 94 miles behind Desjoyeaux and matching his boatspeed at just over 12 knots but the key is that the two skippers are in the same weather system and there is, in reality, very little to choose between them as they head north towards their rendevous with the Doldrums.

Mark Turner, Ellen's shore manager, told madforsailing; "She's lost 30 miles of latitude in the last 24 hours. The distance to go figure is rubbish now - all that matters is latitude and picking the point to cross the Doldrums. He's got an 9-10 hour lead but it's not a lot really. The main thing is they are in the same system."

With both boats on a starboard reach with Kingfisher sailing under full main and genoa, speeds should be fairly similar. However if the breeze backs, as it did for a couple of hours overnight, then Kingfisher may be at a disadvantage if MacArthur has still not managed to repair her broken gennekar.

There is something of a mystery developing on that score with neither MacArthur nor Turner now prepared to say whether the sail is repaired or not. A bit of gamesmanship from the Kingfisher camp perhaps as this critical stage of the race continues to develop. "I'm very honest about everything but I'm not going to tell you anything about the gennekar," said Turner adding that, in any case, his own VPP analysis of the remaining 4,400 miles of the course show the sail may only be required for about 6% of the time.

Ellen was similarly tight-lipped during a radio chat with race-director Philippe Jeantot who enquired about the sail but was left none the wiser as a result.

Meanwhile the "take-off" of Ellen continues in Britain with increasing coverage of the story in the national press and with items on her on Channel Four News and BBC Breakfast News.

1 PRB (Desjoyeaux)
On Jan, 24 at 04:00 UT -18.31(lat) 25.57(long) 4293(miles to go) 351(course) 12.5(speed)
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur)
On Jan, 24 at 04:01 UT -19.51 28.03 94(dist to ldr) 6 12.1
3 Active Wear (Thiercelin)
On Jan, 24 at 04:00 UT -23.49 30.24 359 6 4.43
4 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain)
On Jan, 24 at 04:01 UT -24.18 32.49 413 4 3.97
5 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre)
On Jan, 24 at 04:00 UT -27.25 35.17 625 40 5.02
6 Sodebo (Coville)
On Jan, 24 at 06:00 UT -27.13 38.19 656 341 6.16
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud)
On Jan, 24 at 04:00 UT -38.5 38.36 1324 49 12.6

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

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