Vendee Globe - 1330 - 20/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Catherine Chabaud goes out

Tuesday February 20th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Plenty on in the Vendee Globe this morning, with Catherine Chabaud's overnight dismasting and the finish of fourth placed Marc Thiercelin. Whirlpool (yellow) was sailing upwind in 20 knots of north-easterly breeze on port tack, when at 0135 GMT her rig came crashing down. Catherine was less than 600 miles from the finish and had been catching the boats in front, Dominique Wavre and Thomas Coville - desperate stuff.

Fleet at 0500, 20/2/01

Happier times for Marc Thiercelin (light brown), sneaking across the line, despite rather than because of the breeze, at 11.48 GMT this morning. The French skipper has spent 102 days, 20 hours, 37 minutes and 49 seconds at sea and he came in nine days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 17 seconds after the winner, Michel Desjoyeaux.
Thiercelin was happy and relieved to finish, "I always bring the sunshine with me, it was exactly the same four years ago! This time though was much harder, happily there were some great moments, it's been a fantastic race.

"It remains a great adventure. More an inner voyage than one with the elements this time, in fact. I will never forget the Doldrums and the North Atlantic. I really want to get back to the Southern Ocean, it was just incredible. The last Vendée Globe was more physical, this one much more tactical. All three of my circumnavigations have been totally different. It was my dream to arrive without any other raceboats on the pontoon but it didn't happen, and I accept that.

"Just for the public, this race is worth the trip. It is unique in its concept. It'll take me a few months to absorb it all. Since the Azores, I just haven't understood what has happened to me. When nature decides to play games she can cheat. I was afraid I'd have to stay out there for ages. But I'm happy to be here.

"The rookies got to the podium, good on them. It's one heck of a race, and I'll try to recount it all bit by bit. The last stage was interminable. Whatever direction I headed in, the wind was always on the nose. My first circumnavigation was idyllic, just pure fun. I have lasting impressions from it still. The second was very tough. The third testing, tactical. The guys ahead got all the breaks, but not those behind."

Behind him, the balance in the race between Dominique Wavre (dark brown) and Thomas Coville (orange) is tilting firmly towards Wavre - 71 miles clear with 300 to go to the finish at the 0600 report this morning. Wavre is ahead and slightly to windward in the above image, a good controlling position.

Weather at 1910, 21/2/01The high pressure is now forecast to steadily slacken through this week, without shifting much in position (right). So no big changes in conditions are likely - just a gradual easing of the breeze and no more fast finishes just yet.

With Catherine out of the picture, the next boat is Mike Golding (dark blue), 1300 miles behind, almost out of fuel and with a jury rigged starboard shroud - but coming home in seventh after starting eight days and change late. As they say, it's never over till it's over.

But it's been over for a while for Ellen MacArthur, and the Kingfisher team have come up with some statistics from CLS ARGOS, who provide the position reporting beacons for the Vendee fleet. The distances actually sailed are Michel Desjoyeaux at 26700 miles; Ellen and Kingfisher at 27180 miles and Roland Jourdain at 26782 miles. The accuracy would depend on how often the Argos beacon takes the positions, but it does show that Kingfisher averaged 12.02 knots for the duration of the race - compared to the winner's 11.94 knots.

And apparently Ellen went around the world in 891 naps, with 5.7 hours sleep per day. And during the race and particularly since the media storm surrounding the finish, Kingfisher Challenges received 25,434 emails for Ellen. If you were amongst the senders, the team reckon it could take a few weeks to read them all ...

At the moment Kingfisher is making her way round to the River Thames for a run through Tower Bridge, it should happen mid-morning Wednesday if you're in the city. The boat will be docked at St Catherine's pier overnight before heading to Caen where the keel and mast will come off. Then the boat will be trucked to Paris for a Kingfisher reception on 8-11 March. Ellen is trying to get back to Les Sables to see the other skippers in, and in between it all, snatch some rest.
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 (0600 GMT except where stated, Tuesday 20/2/01, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)
1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) Arrive - 93j 3h 57m 32s
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur) Arrive - 94j 4h 25m 40s (+ 1j 0h 28m 8s)
3 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) Arrive - 96j 1h 2m 33s (+ 2j 22h 5m)
4 Active Wear (Thiercelin) 46.4N 2.1W +19 nm
5 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) 45.2N 8.3W +301 nm
6 Sodebo (Coville) 45.3N 10.2W +372 nm
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud) 42.4N 13.3W +548 nm - Dismasted and retired
8 Team Group 4 (Golding) 32.1N 31.2W +1613 nm
9 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 25.2N 35.6W +2076 nm
10 Voila.fr (Gallay) 24.2N 37W +2152 nm
11 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) 18.2N 37.4W +2449 nm
12 VM Matériaux (Carpentier) 19.4N 42.1W +2546 nm

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