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Sailor Ellen MacArthur is Setting up for the Grande Finale


Photo by: J.Vapillon

The two top placed Vendée Globe 2000 racers are likely to win their respective classes of the Route du Rhum 2002. Ellen MacArthur on Kingfisher (2nd in the Vendée Globe) has less than 30 miles to the first island the Désirade off Guadeloupe and will then struggle the 82 last miles before gliding over the finish line during Friday night or early morning Saturday. Kingfisher will then have completed the 3540 mile race in an average speed of around 11 knots, in more than 13 days. The monohull record by Yves Parlier on Cacolac d’Aquitaine (1994) will be beaten if the finish line is crossed before Sunday 24 November at 08.08 GMT and making more than 9.34 knots on average – the outcome is self evident! Michel Désjoyeaux on Géant (winner of the Vendée Globe) has a stable lead over the two 60-foot trimaran opponents behind, and is expected to cross the finish line 24 hours after the first monohull.

At 1100 GMT Kingfisher was still charging toward Guadeloupe at 15 knots with full main sail and gennaker, but already slowing down four hours later. The young skipper is keeping a remarkable focus after the 13 day hard fought battle from Saint-Malo in Brittany France. At midday (GMT) Ellen MacArthur was expecting to reach the first island La Désirade, east of the northern part of Guadeloupe, at around 1730 GMT today. But at that stage the Route du Rhum 2002 will be far from over as there will then be 82 miles to cover, including the rounding of the Basse-Terre buoy, which thanks to its leeward position of Guadeloupe, is often lacking wind. It may take a good 10 hours with an 8 knot average, if lucky…

Ellen is very much aware of what is ahead of her: “I remember catching a glimpse of the island in the small hours during the last Route du Rhum (1998) and then I crossed the finish line the following night! There was no wind, absolutely nothing at Basse Terre four years ago. For the moment I prefer to concentrate on the race alone.”

Yesterday Ellen MacArthur was enduring great stress, but at the midday call from the race headquarters today she sounded more relaxed. “I have a fair lead on Mike, which is good. But I know the last part off Guadeloupe will not be easy, the conditions can be very unstable.”

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