Vendee Globe - 1230 - 14/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Jourdain comes home in third

Wednesday February 14th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Roland Jourdain is home, taking the final place on the podium last night with a time of 96 days, 1 hour, 2 minutes and 33 seconds. But as we reported yesterday, he gets the additional bonus of the solo mono-hull 24 hour distance run record - now standing at a phenomenal 435.3 miles.

It doesn't look like anyone behind him is about to break that record just at the moment either, the brakes have slammed on as high pressure tightens its grip on Northern Europe. But it looks like the sun will be shining on Ellen's homecoming - fortune definitely favours the first!

Fleet at 0500, 14/2/01
Marc Thiercelin (light brown) is the only one in the leading pack with any breeze, he was doing a little over 12 knots this morning, courtesy of the last gasp of a low pressure a long way to the north of him. Dominique Wavre (dark brown) and Thomas Coville (orange) in fifth and sixth were both struggling at two to three knots as the Azores High sat firmly on them. Catherine Chabaud (yellow) is the latest to hit the parking lot, and she's held out to the west.

Weather at 0830, 15/2/01West and north is the only place there's going to be any wind (right) as in the next 24 hours the high pressure builds and centres over the English Channel and Western Approaches. Thiercelin is currently heading north, his only hope of staying in the breeze, but from this forecast it's a hopeless quest.

Matters might improve a little for those chasing him, as it looks like they could start to get some easterly wind off the bottom edge of the high pressure. But the core of the problem remains, Les Sables d'Olonne and the finish is in the centre of the high itself, and through to the end of the week, there's going to be very little breeze in the northern half of the Bay of Biscay.

Weather at 0000, 17/2/01By the weekend (right) the high will have moved north a little, which may allow a slight easterly to set up in the Bay - but that's just making the finish line upwind for Marc Thiercelin, and it may help those behind him close the gap.

Worse is the fact that the high pressure centred over Britain is holding even powerful low pressure systems - like the one at the top of the image - north of the fleet. Until it breaks down there will be no decent wind to bring anyone home. It's going to be a long hard struggle for the next three or four days at least, and maybe even longer.

And all the time, Mike Golding and Josh Hall are cranking along at around ten knots in the trade winds. They are a mighty long way behind, Golding is more than 800 miles astern of Catherine Chabaud, but Ellen was 600 miles behind Michel Desjoyeaux at Cape Horn, and she turned that into a race.

And mentally, nothing is tougher than getting this close, seeing the leaders finish, and then getting stuck short of the line - you have to feel for these skippers, they will be going through hell out there.

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 (0700 GMT except where stated, Wednesday 14/2, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)

1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) Arrive - 93d 3h 57m 32s
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur) Arrive - 94d 4h 25m 40s (+ 1d 0h 28m 8s)
3 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) Arrive - 96d, 1h, 2m 33s
4 Active Wear (Thiercelin) 43.3N 22.1W +878 nm 12.9 knots
5 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) 34.1N 24.3W +1267 nm 2.87 knots
6 Sodebo (Coville) 34.1N 26.5W +1356 nm 2.29 knots
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud) 30.6N 35.3W +1811 nm 8.88 knots
8 Team Group 4 (Golding) 13.2N 37.2W +2675 nm 9.46 knots
9 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) (at 05:00 GMT) 10.4N 38.3W +2833 nm
10 Voila.fr (Gallay) (at 06:00 GMT) 10N 38.5W +2893 nm
11 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) (at 05:00 GMT) 1.5N 33.5W +3205 nm
12 VM Matériaux (Carpentier) (at 05:00 GMT) 3.2N 37.3W +3205 nm

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