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17 December 2000

Rhythm of the Race With the front of the fleet hooked into a low pressure system, it's high double digit speeds up front.

Standings table 

Top 3

1.  PRB  46:3 South 86:85 East
2.  Sill 48 South 82:3 East + 65 miles 
3.  Aquitaine Innovations 48:1 South 80:3 East +133 miles

Fleet round up section

Fastest of the leaders is Aquitaine Innovations. This a week after Yves Parlier lost the lead. He is now 133 miles back of the lead, clearly still a threat to win the race.

This is not to say that leader PRB is sitting still. Michel Desjoyeaux is sailing at 16.6 knots!

Desjoyeaux's fellow Finistere Course Au Large graduate Roland Jourdain sits 2nd, 65 miles back. 

In 6th Kingfisher has had several problems. A broken batten, had to be removed. Ellen Macarthur climbed the mast in 40 knots of wind. The staysail tack blew out. Then Ellen spotted a tear in the genoa. This left her frustrated and without the proper sail combination to take advantage of the current conditions.

The close duel for 10th and 11th place continues. Today Voila Fr. has pulled out a 19 mile lead on VM Matťriaux. These two boats seem to be tethered to each other. This is shown by their last reported speeds, 9.89 for Voila, 9.8 for VM. 


Skipper Communications

Mike Golding Group 4 "Iíve been sailing with the genoa in a lot of wind speed and the problem is that the shackle that secures the genoa up has failed, come undone or snapped Iím not sure which, and the sail was sliding down the foil. Travelling at 12 - 15 knots like that and you risk losing the sail or damaging it. So I furled it away quickly, and it looks more like a tree trunk right now! 

"The problem now is how to re-attach it. The boat has no halyard system like a conventional boat. The sail is normally attached permanently at the head, and it is furled, rather than hoisted up and down on a halyard. The compression loads on such a halyard would be great. 

"To replace it I have to pull the sail fully up and go up myself."

Catherine Chabaud Whirlpool "There was a time when the whole fleet should have been held up by the dorsal. I still had time to pass to the North of the Kerguelen Islands but the wind charts indicated 35 - 40 knots, indicating to me a hard blow. So I chose the short route, safer for the boat. But the wind forecast wasnít quite right as the actual conditions were calmer than predicted."

Ellen Macarthur Kingfisher "I barely had the energy to put the sail back up again, then collapsed in the cockpit.. A I dashed about the deck working my vision went funny - I was seeing stars permanently, as if I was about to black out.. Bizarre - I didnít but wonder if itís something to do with adrenaline or having been closed to the edge.. or then again maybe I was just frozen."

Simone Bianchetti Aquarelle.com : ďItís very foggy "

ďI am doing quite well now, around 13/14 knots...Itís been very foggy in the last two days and last night I could have cut it with a knife! I have no problem, sailing with two reefs and a staysail. Always the same atmosphere, the waves are very short. 

Thierry Dubois Solidaires "When there is nothing to do the only solution is the duvet and bunk as itís too cold at the chart table. I try to avoid sleeping at night as I want to watch for the growlers and icebergs."

Yves Parlier Aquitaine Innovations ""Aquitaine Innovations is travelling at 16/7 knots, passing 1 degree of longitude by day. Eating up those miles at this speed! If this holds, Cape Horn will come into view in 22 days." 

Current weather conditions Winds of 23 and up for the lead boats. Wind veers to the west as the you move up the rankings.

Weather Forecast The strong winds should stay with the leaders.

What does it all mean

With close racing throughout the fleet the pressure is always on.  Just one more element for the solo skippers to manage.