Vendee Globe - 13.30 - 14/12/00

Desjoyeaux turns on the pace, Edward Gorman reports

Thursday December 14th 2000, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
Michel Desjoyeaux is enjoying excellent downwind conditions at the head of the Vendee fleet and has been able to extend his lead over Roland "Bilou" Jourdain to just over 100 miles. Meanwhile, Yves Parlier has again dropped back to 369 miles behind Desjoyeaux and he has Thomas Coville and Ellen MacArthur in Kingfisher racing each other neck-and-neck, another 75 miles behind.

Desjoyeaux is getting the best of the conditions as he runs in strong westerlies, averaging nearly 15 knots. During the night things were almost out of hand on PRB as the breeze touched 60 knots and more. "The night was tough with 50-60 knots during four or five hours and gusts sometimes over 60," said Desjoyeaux. "The wind was coming from 250 degrees. Now it's quieter, I have 30-40 knots and the sky is blue with just a few white cumulus and it's not too bad to handle the seas. I didn't think we would have this much wind from this low, as we are quite close to its centre," Desjoyeaux added.

"Le professuer", as he is known, has seen some serious speed out of his Finot-designed Open 60 which romped downwind at up to 28 knots as it surfed under auto-pilot, a piece of kit which is impressing its skipper. But he knows Jourdain is ready to take advantage of any mistakes he makes. "I am 350 miles ahead of Parlier - it could be OK but Bilou (Jourdain) is not far behind. I am not going to change my strategy - it's not the time or the place for it and there's too much competition. Still, I have the position Parlier would like to have," he added.

More than 400 miles astern of PRB, MacArthur has been racing alongside Thomas Coville in Sodebo and the two skippers spent sometime in visual contact and chatting on the radio. "Last night was quite calm considering that the South can be so tough," she reported. "I was with Thomas all of yesterday until he left me in the evening. We spoke on the radio - it's great to see someone else, but I prefer to be alone, even though it's quite impressive to see another boat after 35 days at sea."

Elsewhere in the fleet, Joe Seeton aboard the old yawl-rigged Nord Pas du Calais which is running in 13th place, 1,219 miles off the pace, has reported that he has damaged his mast track and must now spend time effecting repairs. "It happened when I was dropping the (main) sail," he told the race office in Paris. "I have two reefs in the sail, but I should really have just one now. I am going to think of solutions."

The Spanish sailor, Javier Sanso, who is in 15th place on Old Spice, also has problems. He has broken a diagonal on the port side of his rig after the boat experienced a knock-down while going at 23 knots in big seas. "I have to work on the mast for quite a long time, so I need to have the boat stable," reported Sanso, who is heading north looking for calmer conditions.

Positions with distance to the leader.

1 Michel Desjoyeaux (PRB) 14,975 miles to go
2 Roland Jourdain (Sill) 103
3 Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) 369
4 Thomas Coville (Sodebo) 444
5 Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) 464
6 Dominique Wavre (UBP) 485
7 Marc Thiercelin (Active Wear) 502
8 Thierry Dubois (Solidaires) 514

Other British
10 Josh Hall (EBP/Gartmore) 641
17 Mike Golding (Team Group 4) 2,303

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