Vendee Globe - 1330 - 15/1/01

Mark Chisnell reports as the assault on the Atlantic begins in earnest

Monday January 15th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The leaders have now left the most significant landmark (apart from the finish) in the race behind them. While Michel Desjoyeaux (red) has continued his stately parade north - maintaining his lead despite hauling down his mainsail to change broken battens - Ellen MacArthur, Marc Thiercelin, Roland Jourdain and Thomas Coville have now all followed him around Cape Horn.

Ellen (light blue) rounded at 1853 GMT on 12/1/01, in plenty of breeze. That didn't last for long as the weather unrolled largely as expected before the weekend. And when the light air hit Kingfisher, Ellen took the opportunity to get up the rig and feed a new gennaker halyard and to start the work on repairing the sail. Her route west of the Falklands ought to have got her into the new breeze quicker, and by last night the expected low pressure had arrived and the wind was back - it's a north-westerly and everyone is bashing upwind into it.

Fleet at 0600, 15/1/01
Marc Thiercelin (light brown) rounded behind Ellen at 1608 GMT on 13/1/01 in a westerly 12 knot wind and rather easy sea. Thiercelin had also suffered in the light air, and crawled the last miles to the Horn before the filling breeze finally arrived to get him round. But he was then able to run the more direct easterly course past the Falklands and has consequently eaten further into Ellen's lead, just 180 miles behind at this morning's position report.

A few hours after Thiercelin it was Roland Jourdain's (dark blue) turn, but his arrival at the Horn meant anchoring in shelter to repair his mast track and rig problems. By this morning he was racing again, doing 12 knots at 0700 GMT, but he's now over 200 miles behind Thiercelin, after being ahead of his compatriot for so long in the Southern Ocean.

Thomas Coville (orange) was next on Sunday at about 1900 GMT, and he's still half a day ahead of Christophe Auguin’s 1996 - 1997 record, though four days behind Michel Desjoyeaux. Coville commented just before rounding, "It’s brilliant. I’m sailing upwind in a cold strong wind. I’ve got about 30 knots. Not easy to make good progress as the boat slams about a fair bit and boat speed is just under ten knots. I’m sailing past the islands with their big high snow-capped mountains. Visibility is excellent, very pure, even though there’s no sun. I’ll be rounding the Horn some ten miles off the coast, a really gorgeous moment."

Dominique Wavre (dark brown) is a couple of hundred miles behind Coville and these six boats must be all those with a chance of a podium finish as we enter the final stage of this epic race. They are spread over more than 1200 miles of ocean, but the gap back from Wavre to seventh placed Catherine Chabaud (not on image) is huge, almost 700 miles.
Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.

continued on page two

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