Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Michel Desjoyeaux already out of the Doldrums?

[Source: Vendée Globe] Has Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) escaped from the Doldrums even before crossing the Equator? That is the impression we get this morning, with his speed back up to 9.9 knots, but in this unpredictable zone, you cannot jump to any hasty conclusions.

The violence of the squalls could still offer some surprises to the clear leader in the sixth Vendée Globe. 334 miles further south, Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) must be feeling more pleased after regaining 160 miles in 36 hours. At 13.3 knots this morning, he is making the most of the steady trade winds to win back the miles from his rival.

It may not be the Doldrums, but for Samantha Davies (Roxy), to the south of Rio, the effect is the same. Struggling in light winds her average speed over 24 hours has dropped to 6.5 knots. At the same time, Marc Guillemot (Safran), closer to the Brazilian coast has maintained his speed (11.6 knots) meaning that he is now just 35 miles from Sam, whereas 48 hours ago, 250 miles separated them.

The battle is raging too between the Cape Horn Trio, Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar), Dee Caffari, GBR (Aviva) and Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) off the Valdès Peninsula in Argentina.

On his ten-year-old boat, the Frenchman is finding it difficult to keep up with his British rivals. Dee Caffari is doing 16.9 knots this morning in spite of the damage to her mainsail has achieved the best performance over 24 hours. Caffari now finds herself just 70 miles behind Thompson and the same distance ahead of the French skipper, and she has been consistently quicker than her compatriot. But this group are expected to hit lighter winds todday.

After a quick passage towards Cape Horn, a traditionally bumpy and windy first rounding at 2030hrs last night, Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) suffered the transitional slow down as he turns up the Atlantic towards the Maire Straits. But at 0600hrs this morning he had made nearly 100 miles since the lonely rock but, while last night his was pledging to do all he can to catch the trio nearly 1000 miles in front of him, light winds in the South Atlantic may thwart his ambition initially at least.

For Inauguration Day in his native USA, Rich Wilson is back in brisk 30 knots winds and has 1400 miles to Cape Horn, whilst the Dinelli and Sedlacek duo are making slow, but steady progress resolutely south of the SW Pacific Ice Gate, presumably deciding together when they will dip north to satisfy the gate's requirement.

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