Vendee Globe - 1230 - 3/1/01
Desjoyeaux (red) told the race office in a fax that the electrical starter for his Yanmar 37 hp engine had burned out. This is the engine that charges his batteries and without it Desjoyeaux has to rely on wind and solar power to generate the juice to run autopilots, instruments, navigation and communications equipment. And without those tools - as Thierry Dubois said when he withdrew - you are blind and dead in the water.
No surprises then to find that Ellen MacArthur (light blue) and Roland Jourdain (dark blue) have closed down the leader in the last 24 hours, and both are now just under 120 nm behind. They have been slaloming their way downwind, gybing across the westerly breeze off the top of the low pressure to their south, and running hard and fast down the rhumb line for Cape Horn at about 57S.
Marc Thiercelin (light brown) has been making the same gains on Desjoyeaux and a little more, from his northerly position he's been able to stay on starboard gybe on a course a little closer to the direct line, he's also gained about thirty miles on MacArthur and Jourdain.
Desjoyeaux has continued to hold north, even more so than yesterday, presumably while he tries to fix his problem. And we can see from the bigger weather picture (above) that he is out of the best of the breeze as well as taking a longer route to Cape Horn (visible bottom right) on this higher latitude.