Vendee Globe - 1030 - 23/11/00
Ellen is just hanging onto third place and going at just under seven knots. Her distance to the leader is 116 miles, identical to Roland Jourdain in Sill who is nominally ranked fourth. In fifth place, another 15 miles back is Thierry Dubois in the light blue and white-striped Open 60, Solidaires.
Parlier sounded relieved to have finally picked up speed after several very slow and tiring days, despite now having to sail to windward. "The wind is coming from exactly the direction I want to go, so I have to head upwind," he reported. "But at least I have wind - and the trades from the south-east. Yesterday evening when the wind strengthened, I went from light genoa to heavy. I am going south progressively - I'd like to be heading direct south into the southern hemisphere, to be going as quickly as possible, but this is not too bad."
Parlier reflected on the overall situation which has proved that his decision to stay on the eastern side of the course has done him no harm. "I was worried as my strong lead nearly dissolved in the Doldrums but I have escaped with a good gap behind me," he said. "I am sure that those further behind in the fleet will now find it less difficult to cross the Doldrums."
The Frenchman, who led in the early stages of the last Vendee until problems with his forestay forced him to stop for repairs, said this had been his hardest passage through the Doldrum belt. "Last time on Aquitaine Innovations it was like posting a letter to get through," he said. "I never went below 7/8 knots, but this year I spent days going along at just 1/2 knots."
Ellen, meanwhile, came through another slow night on the west side of the leading bunch before picking up speed around dawn. During the night while working on deck, she saw an amazing sight which she assumes to have been a satellite crashing to earth. "It was an astonishing thing," she said. "A satellite, I guess, coming hurtling down to earth. It lit up the clouds like lightning before heading into the water, seemingly becoming more and more orange. It was extraordinary - I thought I was dreaming," she added.
Rankings(with distance to the leader)
Aquitaine Innovations (Parlier) 20,822 miles to go 2 PRB (Desjoyeaux) 55
3 Kingfisher (MacArthur) 116
4 SILL Matines La Potagère (Jourdain) 116
5 Solidaires (Dubois) 131
6 Sodebo (Coville) 137
9 EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall) 208
14 This Time Argos Soditic (Tolkien) 322
22 Team Group 4 (Golding) 1896