Vendee Globe - 1030 - 7/2/01We can see the reason for Thiercelin's swerve to the west in the Thursday morning forecast (right) - the Azores High is making like ET and going home.
The high pressure centre is going to sweep east towards its eponymous islands, chasing Desjoyeaux and Ellen. They will outrun it, but it could push the worst of the storm conditions associated with the low pressure ahead of them, and keep conditions reasonable.
But the prognosis for Roland Jourdain looks very sketchy, he could easily get steamrollered by the high and slowed badly. That's why Marc Thiercelin has taken the apparently extreme option of heading west, he believes his best chance of escaping the high is to cross the centre and get out the other side.
Thiercelin confirmed this himself this morning, "It’s just a nightmare here, I’m stuck in this anticyclone and the wind is playing with me, it’s so hard to navigate. I’m trying something, which only the condemned man would do, it’s my last chance though, I’m trying to sail round the system the other way. It will elongate the miles for me but I should get stronger winds - let’s face (it), what have I got to lose now? The top two have shot off, so I’ll do anything to come back on Bilou (Jourdain)."
Looking at the forecast for Friday morning (right) he may well be right, the high has moved quickly to centre itself back close to the Azores. And the south-westerly breeze from the next low pressure system is stretching almost down to Thiercelin's current position.
We can expect both Jourdain and Thiercelin to lose a lot more miles on the leaders before the finish as they struggle with this scenario.
But it looks much more favourable for the pair behind, Thomas Coville and Dominique Wavre, still only nine miles apart, but now 1500 miles behind Desjoyeaux after a horrible mauling in the Doldrums. But it does look as though they will get an easy ride past the Azores High, and the chance to further close the gap to Marc Thiercelin.
Mike Golding has stamped on the gas and after taking so long to get fully past Josh Hall is pulling away comfortably, as Hall struggles with his westerly position on the Brazilian coastline. Golding was 172 miles clear this morning of fellow Brit, but he's running short on fuel and doing a minimum amount of communicating to save what power he can.
Meanwhile, the redoubtable Yves Parlier has reached a significant landmark in his efforts to complete the course within the rules, "I passed Cape Horn yesterday at 2037 hours. Excellent passage. My fourth and they are never the same. I passed this time quite close to the rocks, under spinnaker with the odd glimpse of sunlight, snowcapped mountain tops, dolphins. I really took the time to enjoy it thoroughly. Amazing scenery!
"Right now I’m trying to get myself away from Cape Horn, I think I’ve got into the right wind for that. I’ve been climbing North and getting Westerly winds to really make the boat go. The sea is really quite rough considering what wind there is. But this part won’t be too bad I think. But as for the rest it might be quite long as I’m missing some sails."
Parlier added, "I’m working on a 20th March arrival for my rationing. I hope it’s before then as I’ll have nothing left to eat at all at all at all!" Philippe Jeantot and the race office have authorised Yves to open his survival equipment to eat the food it contains.
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 (0500 GMT except where stated, Wednesday 7/2, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)
1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) (at 06:00 GMT) 36.2N 23.3W 1162 nm
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur) (at 07:03 GMT) 34.4N 25.1W +141 nm
3 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) 29.3N 31.3W +558 nm
4 Active Wear (Thiercelin) (at 07:01 GMT) 28.2N 39.2W +907 nm
5 Sodebo (Coville) 11.2N 33.2W +1504 nm
6 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) 11.2N 33.4W +1513 nm
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud) 5N 34.2W +1882 nm
8 Team Group 4 (Golding) (at 03:00 GMT) 8.1S 31.6W +2573 nm
9 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 9.5S 35.3W +2745 nm
10 Voila.fr (Gallay) 15.1S 33.4W +3032 nm
11 VM Matériaux (Carpentier) 19S 34W +3260 nm
12 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) (at 03:00 GMT) 19.5S 34.2W +3295 nm