Vendee Globe - 1030 - 7/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Ellen and Mich barrel homewards

Wednesday February 7th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The final charge continues apace, Michel Desjoyeaux (red) and Ellen MacArthur (light blue) are ripping through the miles as they blast towards the finish. Although the speeds have backed off a little from yesterday afternoon's high of almost 18 knots for Desjoyeaux, they are still closing the line at over 350 miles a day.

Leaders at 0300, 7/2/01

Looking at the chart (above), both Ellen and Desjoyeaux are firmly locked into the north-westerly breeze on the south-west sector of the big low pressure that's pounding Northern Europe. With the gap steady at around 140 miles and a highway of solid breeze unrolling before them all the way to Les Sables d'Olonne, even Ellen had to admit that the opportunities for the big tactical plays were gone.

She told the Race Office yesterday, "I tried an option in the east but it hasn’t worked out well as you can see. We need to get back home, that’s all. There is not a lot to do strategy-wise anymore. The only chance left was the Azores anticyclone (high). I can’t see anything else except if Michel has a problem."

Weather at 0300, 7/2/01

As we can see from the bigger weather picture (above), there is seriously strong breeze ahead of them - gusts to 60 knots in one forecast from yesterday. The priority for both skippers now will almost certainly be to protect their weary boats and get home in one piece without further breakdowns. As Desjoyeaux said yesterday, "I am so conscious of not wanting to break anything, which would slow PRB down now. I've got one foot on the accelerator, one on the brake."

Behind these two Roland Jourdain (dark blue) has been as resigned as Ellen to his lack of strategic options, while also being forced to watch the pair in front disappear over the horizon, "I imagine that life isn’t too great for Marc Thiercelin, and I don’t see any danger from him in the immediate. I’m just about to miss the system which Mich and Ellen have got into. There’s nothing tactically now I can do, but at the risk of repeating myself, anything can still happen."

This morning Jourdain had slipped another 140 miles behind Desjoyeaux and Ellen, and we can see that although he has the north-westerly, he is getting it from the high pressure and not the low - he's missed this bus home. But for Thiercelin (light brown) the punishment is much worse at the moment. The high has moved right over him, and he's lost over 300 miles to the leaders in the last 24 hours - in part because he's actually been headed away from the finish.

continued on page two

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

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