Vendee Globe - 1030 - 6/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Michel Desjoyeaux slips away

Tuesday February 6th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Michel Desjoyeaux has passed Go, collected £200 and headed for home. The French star, favourite since the beginning and leader almost without interruption for the last two-thirds of the race, has made the crucial final breakaway. It was yesterday morning that Desjoyeaux radioed into the Race Office to announce that he had found the new westerly breeze and was moving again.

The late morning and afternoon position reports confirmed it and, for an unhappy few hours, Desjoyeaux (red) slipped away, while Ellen MacArthur's (light blue) speedo remained glued under the five knot mark. This morning the extent of the damage was clear, Desjoyeaux was 122 miles ahead, with just over 1500 miles to go to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne.

Fleet at - 0300 - 6/2/01

The extent to which they were battling to get north for the breeze can be seen in the image (above), as soon as Desjoyeaux and then Ellen got the new north-westerly wind - at almost the same latitude - they turned north-east towards the finish.

By this morning the speeds were building fast, and they were flying downwind, Desjoyeaux pushing 16 knots and Ellen over 13 knots. Behind these two, Roland Jourdain (dark blue) and Marc Thiercelin (light brown) are still struggling with the Azores High, Jourdain was doing nine knots this morning and has slipped back to almost 300 miles behind Ellen.

Weather at 0300, 6/2/01

Desjoyeaux reckons he could cross the line on Saturday morning, and a glance at the weather map (above) indicates why he could finish the last 1500 miles so quickly. The leading pair are just into the south-west sector of a huge low pressure system that is battering Northern Europe (isn't this where we started three months ago?) and will provide plenty of breeze for the leader's ride home.
continued on page two

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

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