Vendee Globe - 1330 - 19/1/01

Mark Chisnell reports as it stays ugly out there

Friday January 19th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Another day in which Ellen MacArthur (light blue) manages the double trick of catching Michel Desjoyeaux (red) and holding off third placed Marc Thiercelin (light brown). Just over 300 miles behind the leader this morning, and still more than 200 ahead of her frustrated pursuer. But it's fourth placed Roland Jourdain (dark blue) who's had the best 24 hours, with a charge that gets him 60 miles closer to Thiercelin. Can the comeback kid pull off another recovery like the one that got him up to second despite restarting twelve hours late?

Fleet at 0500, 19/1/01

Mike Golding's another man who's had a good day, back in the Southern Ocean and up to ninth now in Team Group 4, with fellow Brit Josh Hall only 553 miles ahead. With over 7,000 miles to sail, Golding has every chance of hauling himself up into eighth place - a fabulous effort given that he started eight days after the fleet, following his dismasting. Catherine Chabaud will also be more cheerful today, after passing Cape Horn at 0230hrs GMT on Thursday morning.

Ahead of Catherine, Thomas Coville was less happy. "At the end of yesterday I was sailing at 18 knots under spinnaker and full main sail ... I spotted two black shapes 15 metres from my bow. I bore away violently and passed just ten metres from two great backs curving in the water - and then I saw their tales! At ten metres away! I just couldn’t believe it myself, it can’t be true! They are following me around!" Coville suffered rudder damage earlier in the race when he hit a whale.

The weather wasn't being kind to him either, "Actually I was 40 miles behind Bilou (Jourdain) and I stopped in a wind hole! Eighteen hours going at one knot, helpless. There are quite a few of these little high pressure bubbles. The south-west breeze is a lot less than the forecasts indicated."

Weather at 0500, 19/1/01

As we can see above, Coville has got the south-westerly wind direction - if not the strength - that was predicted for him yesterday. It seems to have filled in as far north as Roland Jourdain, "I’m sailing downwind, it’s quite relaxing. Yesterday afternoon upwind the boat was gliding along beautifully, I’m on a great escalator for climbing north, which lets me catch up on sleep as I’m still feeling a bit run down." Bilou told the Race Office this morning.

But east of these two, the ugly swirl of isobars that we've been looking at on the forecast for the past couple of days is finally resolving itself into something more concrete - a big low pressure system. The clockwise circulation round a Southern Hemisphere depression is just visible on this morning's weather, as it grows and moves east quickly. And it seems to be giving a great shot of north- westerly breeze to Ellen and Thiercelin.

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

continued on page two

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