Vendee Globe - 1430 - 20/11/00

EdGorman reports MacArthur and Golding both have their problems as the Doldrums loom

Monday November 20th 2000, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
Bernard Stamm has formerly retired from the Vendee Globe, citing damage to both the auto-pilots on board his new Open 60, SuperBigou. Stamm said he had no plans to continue in the race as an 'unclassified' competitor after stopping.

Speaking as he headed for the Cape Verde Island of Sal, Stamm said: 'I wanted to repair the problems at sea but it's impossible. I am not giving up easily but I just can't fix it without help. I'm going to repair the boat, return to Brittany and prepare for the next one,' he added.

At the head of the fleet, meanwhile, the ding-dong battle between Michel Desjoyeaux and Yves Parlier continues with conflicting reports as to which skipper has the upper hand. What we do know is that Desjoyeaux is further west than Parlier and current weather patterns give him better pressure as both skippers approach the Doldrum belt.

West of them and west of everyone else, Ellen MacArthur is still hoping - even praying - that her radical decision to gybe away towards Brazil will give her a quicker run through the windless zone than those further east. No-one can fault MacArthur for her independence of spirit. She is way out on her own and is around 200 miles west of Catherine Chabaud, the most easterly boat.

MacArthur has also been having a few problems on her light blue and yellow Kingfisher. It all started with a pilot failure which sent the Open 60 into a dangerous involuntary gybe - not very handy when you already have a damaged mainsheet block . 'The mainsheet snapped as it was sliced by the broken block...big's taken me two hours to get it all fixed but I guess at least I've now sorted out the block that was sitting there as an undone job,' MacArthur reported. She added: 'This is what happens when something is left for too long.'

Reflecting on what could be a critical stage in this marathon, Desjoyeaux said he was looking for a zone rather than a particular point at which to cross the Doldrums. 'I am going to sail the wind that I have and make the boat as fast as I can. It's really just a game of cards and it's only when you get out the other side that you know whether you have been dealt a good hand or not.' Tricky times for 'le professuer' who is already experiencing a drop in windspeed as he continues south.

Chabaud in Whirlpool has taken the opportunity to move west and south from her easterly position, closest to the African coast. 'The wind is more easterly and not as northerly as expected,' she said. 'This type of situation makes it easier for me to continue my southerly route while gaining slightly in the west.'

Back in the Biscay, Britain's Mike Golding has made good progress after his re-start late on Friday. Golding is now approaching Cape Finisterre in Team Group 4 and is already around two hours up on the pace set by the leaders at that stage last week. His latest report only underlines, however, how difficult Golding has found it to accept the cruel reversal of fortune he suffered when Team Group 4's rig came down on the first day of the race.

'For me the Vendee Globe is not just another race but the culmination of ten years of professional sailing. The four-year dream to compete in this event had occupied my team and I on every single day. Team Group 4 was built two years ago with this event in mind. Preparation was our watchword and we had sailed the boat in events, building and gathering knowledge for this one event. Then quicker than you can say Vendee Globe, the dream of winning was gone.

'I am not really coping with this twist of fate - the enormity of the fact still blows my mind. All I can do is press on day-by-day, and try to make some good of all our work,' he added. Things don't get better for the former Berkshire fireman who has already reported problems with his pilots and instruments.

Postitions (0800 UT according to Race Office)

1 Desjoyeaux 21195
2 Parlier +14
3 Thiercelin +36
4 Jourdain +38
5 Dubois + 42
6 Coville +55
7 MacArthur +58
8 Hall +103
9 Chabaud + 195
10 Wavre +255
11 Seeten +450
12 Dumont +452

Other British

15 Tolkien +572
22 Golding+2129

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