Vendee Globe - 1330 - 16/1/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Ellen gains some serious miles

Tuesday January 16th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
A big gain for Ellen MacArthur (light blue) in the last 24 hours - almost a 150 miles closer to the leader, Michel Desjoyeaux (red) this morning. She's also about 40 nm further ahead of the chasing Mark Thiercelin (light brown), and only fourth placed Roland Jourdain (dark blue) has kept pace with her - 'Bilou' could be making another charge back into contention after his repair stop at the Horn.

Further back in the fleet there is human drama as Russian skipper Fedor Konyukhov, aboard Modern University for the Humanities, is fighting a health problem - kidney pain. He has taken the medications he has on board that have been prescribed by the race medic, Dr. Chauve, and this is helping him sleep. There is a storm closing from the south, and Konyukhov already has 40 knot winds. He is proceeding at seven knots under storm sail towards Tasmania, and if the problem persists he will stop in Hobart.

Fleet at 0200, 16/1/01
Dominique Wavre rounded Cape Horn at 0940 GMT yesterday morning, and the leading six are all now steeling themselves for the final big push home. Ahead of Wavre, Thomas Coville is also on a charge, "I’m 50 miles from Bilou (Jourdain) now and 200 miles from Marc (Thiercelin). I’ve come back on these guys quite well recently so it’s spurring me on. No big problems on board. I’m attacking the last stage of the race with all my sails, unlike others. I changed my staysail just before Cape Horn, so I have a new one up now. I still have a nearly new gennaker in the hold. My two other gennakers are worn but could still be useful. The boat is set to attack this final ascent of the Atlantic."

Gennaker-less she maybe, but Ellen is no less pumped, "I think that now I am in good form. I am ready! Right now I am reaching at 13 knots, the boat is quite fast. A few hours ago I had gusts up to 35 knots. I took an option to the west as we are going to have some north-westerly and it’s best to be in the west. It can be worth it. I am close reaching and I can bear away a little bit more to come back on the others. And I am heading towards Michel so it’s good."

Weather at 0200, 16/1/01

The man with the pressure on him is leader Michel Desjoyeaux, as we can see from the picture, he's right into that high pressure system. He commented this morning, "There is an anticyclonic bubble, which is spoiling the seascape and moving slowly to the north-east. I had no choice but to tackle it head on and follow it. Yesterday wasn’t my finest day, but it’s like that! The wind has returned and the boat is going along by herself nicely now.
Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to the VS site.

continued on page two

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