Ellen MacArthur aboard her Open 60, Kingfisher, battled it out with Desjoyeaux’s PRB during the night to find herself in the lead by three miles

For the first time in the Vendee Globe, Ellen sailed Kingfisher to the top of the ranking during the night. The 0300 positions put her 3 miles ahead, although 9 miles to the south and further east than PRB. In the battle to exit the Doldrums, the distance to finish is far from the whole story. Pleased of course to be at the top of the official rankings, the fatigue and tactical situation has not permitted Ellen to relax or cheer with the news, not to speak of her current progress, with which the GPS is giving her an ETA of next Christmas in Les Sables.

The current weather conditions are far from ideal; the wind is very fluky and has rarely exceeded 5 knots in the past 24 hours. The heat, and the sloppy motion make it almost impossible to sleep, and the constant sail trimming required means that the skippers are really under pressure to make the most out of what breeze there is.

Ellen recounts the experience of the last few hours, ‘We’re really suffering here, we’ve done just 65 miles in 24 hours, it’s desperate. I am very tired, having entered the Doldrums quite exhausted after climbing the mast, that wasn’t the best way to start this battle with the calms. I guess I had no choice. I’ve been thinking for most of the night about Bilou, not Mich, as he is charging up the western side and the forecast shows he might hold the wind right the way north. The ranking doesn’t show it, but he’s in a strong position. Mich and I are very stuck. We have to hope that we can escape before he gets passed us.’

SILL is already 45 miles north of Active Wear, something not obvious on distance to go. Even though exiting the Doldrums further to the west carries the risk of running into headwinds, SILL’s western position could certainly cause a big leader-board change. Active Wear meanwhile looks to be heading for the same area as PRB and KINGFISHER, so one would imagine he should start to slow down as he approaches the equator, even if the distances are going to really close up. Nevertheless, there could be quite a few positions changes in the next 36 hours.

1 – Kingfisher (MacArthur)

2 – PRB (Desjoyeaux)

3 – Active Wear (Thiercelin)

4 – SILL Matines La Potagere (Jourdain)

5 – Union Bancaire Privee (Wavre)

6 – Sodebo (Coville)

7 – Whirlpool (Chabaud)

8 – EBP EspritPME Gartmore (Hall)

9 – Team Group 4 (Golding)

10 – Voila.fr (Gallay)

Photo Credit: Thierry Martinez