Vendee Globe - 1230 - 29/1/01
The larger weather picture (above) shows the Azores High stretching down to leave an even gap to the South Atlantic High. And the forecast shows almost no change in the position of either through to the middle of the week (below). There is little help coming from the weather in the short term.
The battle between Desjoyeaux and MacArthur will be fought on deck. Every moment they can spend watching for clouds and trimming to the conditions will increase their chances of breaking clear.
This is the ultimate test of mental and physical strength - with the odd dose of luck thrown in, as one of them may get a few more breaks from the unpredictable conditions than the other.
But what about Roland Jourdain? Are Ellen's concerns justified? He is positioned all the way to the west, right on the coast of Brazil. Third placed Marc Thiercelin - to Jourdain's east and slightly further south - reflected, "I have a little less wind than Bilou, he has about 15 - 20 knots according to the weather files, whereas I have ten. Jourdain holds a better trump card being more to the west but I’m drawing on my past circumnavigations and saw Hervé Laurent pass in the east. I prefer to be to windward of the fleet."
Once they get clear of the Doldrums, they still have to sail almost directly upwind in the north-east trades. Even if Jourdain gets ahead he will need to build a pretty decent lead to be able to get across to the east from his leeward position and put Desjoyeaux and Ellen solidly behind him.
But the US computer models show that Jourdain could hold the breeze right through the Doldrums. It will fill to the east from early Wednesday onwards, bringing wind to the two leaders - but they need to struggle clear before then, or Jourdain will have a shot at getting past them. The next couple of days could decide this race, or they could turn it into an awesome three-way contest over the last three thousand miles ...
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 (0300 GMT except where stated, Monday 29/1, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)
1 Kingfisher (MacArthur) 0.5N 27.4W 3114 nm
2 PRB (Desjoyeaux) 0.6N 28.2W +3 nm
3 Active Wear (Thiercelin) (at 05:01 GMT) 4.2S 27.6W +318 nm
4 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) (at 05:00 GMT) 3.4S 33.1W +389 nm
5 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) (at 05:00 GMT) 15S 34.4W +1097 nm
6 Sodebo (Coville) (at 05:35 GMT) 18.5S 34.4W +1282 nm
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud) (at 04:01 GMT) 25.2S 32.5W +1666 nm
8 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) (at 05:00 GMT) 33.1S 46.4W +2383 nm
9 Team Group 4 (Golding) (at 05:14 GMT) 35.4S 43.3W +2437 nm
10 Voila.fr (Gallay) (at 04:00 GMT) 40.5S 46.4W +2759 nm
11 VM Matériaux (Carpentier) (at 05:00 GMT) 42.3S 46.2W +2857 nm
12 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) (at 05:00 GMT) 44.4S 45.3W +2964 nm