Vendee Globe - 1430 - 2/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Ellen hits trouble

Friday February 2nd 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
The big bad news is Ellen MacArthur's collision - with what was most likely a container - and her remarkable recovery, which stemmed her losses at less than 80 miles. The rest of the fleet has already paid tribute to another extraordinary effort, third placed Roland Jourdain commented, "Bravo Ellen! To have hit a container, break a daggerboard and damage a rudder and to be up where she is in the fleet still! Bravo!"

While the leader, Michel Desjoyeaux, reflected on her bad luck, "With what has happened to Ellen, it’s tough, there’s no instrument to pick up these objects - it’s really such a lottery out here, you have to cross your fingers. At the least she has been able to repair the damage. Of course I wouldn’t want that to happen to me!"

Fleet at 0400, 2/2/01

We can see that Ellen's track (light blue) has slipped slowly and inexorably to leeward and west of Michel Desjoyeaux (red), even though the distance has stayed very much the same - Kingfisher has lost a percent or so of windward performance, not bad, but bad enough in this upwind drag race.

The other performance limitation Kingfisher now has will be tacking, when Ellen has to shift the single good daggerboard back to the starboard side - she isn't going to win a tacking duel to the finish. But they ought to be in downwind conditions as soon as they clear the trade winds and Azores High, and then the boards are lifted anyway. The damage shouldn't be too big a handicap.

The good news is that the gap back to Roland Jourdain has also stayed rock steady, only Marc Thiercelin has lost out, slipping back almost 60 miles in the last 24 hours and still slower this morning. Jourdain commented, "With PRB (Desjoyeaux) and Kingfisher, we’re the best boats upwind. Thiercelin will find it harder but none of us can escape the fact that our boats have sailed more than 20,000 miles and we’re all paranoid about something breaking. I’m sure it’s not as bad as I make it out to be!"

Weather at 0400, 2/2/01

On this morning's weather (above) the centre of the Azores High is clearly visible right in front of them, although they still have plenty more trade wind highway to travel, the options for getting through the high pressure and breaking into the low pressure zone to its north are starting to preoccupy the leading skippers.
continued on page two

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

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