Vendee Globe - 1230 - 19/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports with Marc Thiercelin still not home ...

Monday February 19th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
In the last three days Marc Thiercelin has got just 450 miles closer to the finish line - slightly more than Roland Jourdain managed in 24 hours on his passage through the same piece of water - the torture goes on and on for the man in fourth, who was with Jourdain back at the Equator. The Race Office now reckon it will take him more than 24 hours to cover the final 115 miles, and he won't be in until tomorrow mid-morning.

The forecast has developed much as expected over the weekend, with the high pressure sinking south from over Britain. It's now centred somewhere between Cornwall and Brittany, extending out into the Atlantic and showing no real signs of going away even by the middle of the week. It will continue to wobble around a little, before edging south-west and filling a tad. But the route home will be basically upwind - with maybe some reaching - in light to moderate air for a while yet. It doesn't get much tougher after a hundred days at sea.

Marc Thiercelin has had to sail almost to the Scilly Isles before he tacked back towards Ushant and then into the Bay of Biscay. And while Thomas Coville and Dominique Wavre have at least been able to make better straight line progress towards the finish, the miles haven't been running down much quicker for them either.

Catherine Chabaud is the one who's been making all the distance up, and she's now just a 170 miles behind Coville. But she must face the same problem as the others, after reaching fast towards the finish in the easterly breeze along the bottom of the high, she is now sailing closer to the centre and also going upwind in light air.

Mike Golding and Josh Hall are following Chabaud, reaching up through the bottom of this enormous high, and they will quickly close with the group in front. Mike Golding battles on with his fuel situation still marginal, but behind him, Josh Hall has been having problems of his own, with a jammed mainsail halyard. Hall realised when he tried to take a reef in this morning - not being able to reduce sail is dangerous on any boat, but solo on an Open 60 ...
Josh Hall takes up his tale, "I knew immediately that I would have to go up and sort it out but in the quite strong conditions it was going to be pretty dangerous. So, I called my HQ and told to advise the Race HQ I was going up and if I did not call back inside two hours I was stuck up there injured and the HQ would need to divert Voila.fr to assist. It was a sensible precaution. Once I had struggled to the masthead I discovered the block had broken and the halyard was jammed inside it. I locked off the sail with a floating rope clutch then placed a new block. The halyard had to be cut but I rejoined it." reported Josh.

"It was quite the hardest thing I have ever done at sea - it was so difficult to hold on as the mast moved around quite violently, and to do quite a complex bit of work too. I have never been so glad to hit the deck!! My arms and legs will not work properly at the moment after nearly two hours of straining!"

Hall is happy that the repair will hold but, "The most frustrating thing will be that I have lost some miles through this, but it's more important to have the boat safe and the halyard working properly. I sincerely hope it's my last trip up the mast for this race!"
Apologies for the lack of Virtual Spectator images today, a technical problem on the editor's computer - normal service will hopefully be resumed tomorrow ...

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 (0600 GMT except where stated, Monday 19/2, with Distances to Finish from Race Office)

1 PRB (Desjoyeaux) Arrive - 93d 3h 57m 32s
2 Kingfisher (MacArthur) Arrive - 94d 4h 25m 40s (+ 1d 0h 28m 8s)
3 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) Arrive - 96d 1h 2m 33s (+ 2d 22h 5m)
4 Active Wear (Thiercelin) 46.2N 4.3W +115 nm
5 Union Bancaire Privée (Wavre) 46.1N 12.9W +453 nm
6 Sodebo (Coville) 46.2N 13.6W +507 nm
7 Whirlpool (Chabaud) 42.4N 16.4W +678 nm
8 Team Group 4 (Golding) (at 04:00 GMT) 27.4N 33.1W +1836 nm
9 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 23.5N 37.1W +2172 nm
10 Voila.fr (Gallay) 23.3N 37.3W +2205 nm
11 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde (Seeten) (at 04:00 GMT) 16.4N 38W +2525 nm
12 VM Matériaux (Carpentier) 18.1N 42.1W 2612 nm

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