'Lectronic Index

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Photos of the Day: Lake Geneva

February 2 - Geneva, Switzerland

It's not just hurricanes and tsunamis that mess with boats in marinas. According to Larry Bliss of Horizon out of Grand Marina in Alameda, "A friend sent this who got it from a friend's daughter's friend in Geneva. Huh? I have never seen that much ice before and am just glad I live in NorCal."

Lake Geneva, called Lac Léman in France, is on the Swiss/French border in the Jura mountains. The city of Geneva is at 1,365 ft.

Photos Courtesy Larry Bliss

What Does It Mean When the February Latitude 38 Sees Its Shadow?

February 2 - California

Photo Latitude/Annie

Here in sunny California it means six more weeks of great winter sailing!

Vendée Globe: The Fat Lady's Singing

February 2 - Les Sables d'Olonne, France

The winner of the Vendée Globe, the solo, nonstop race around the world, is due to sail across the finish line off Les Sables D'Olonne, France, around midnight GMT tonight (4:00 p.m. PST). That winner now appears to be France's Vincent
Riou aboard the Open 60 PRB, who at last report was sailing in flat water at 12 knots directly for the finish line - less than 100 miles away - while the two other boats in the lead group were still battling contrary breeze. Amazingly, PRB is the same boat that won the last Vendée under Michel Desjoyeaux. But Riou did it a lot faster. His predicted 87 days-and-change mark will obliterate the old 93-day record.

Vincent Riou aboard PRB
Photo Vincent Riou

It'll be a hot time in the old town tomorrow, too, as first Jean Le Cam on Bonduelle pulls in, and then Britain's Mike Golding on Ecover. At the last ranking, those two boats were 108 and 185 miles from Riou, respectively. This will mark one of the closest finishes ever in six runnings of the Vendée.

"I've made so many mistakes I don't even want to think about it, but have tried to sail offensively," Riou said in one of his last communiques. "Now I'm starting to see signs of getting home: fishing boats, planes, and it smells like home. I'm really happy about arriving in Les Sables d'Olonne to see everybody. I'm going to spend a lot of time outside and will enjoy my last few hours at sea."

Stay tuned. There are still 10 other Vendée boats spread all over the Atlantic, and the 4th and 5th boats - Dominique Wavre on Tememos and Sebastian Josse on VMI - are in a virtual dead heat only 20 miles apart, with 1,000 left to go to the finish. The Bay Area's Bruce Schwab aboard Ocean Planet is currently running in the 9th spot.

For more on the Vendée, log onto www.vendeeglobe.fr/uk/.

Change in Weather Increases Pressure on Ellen's Record Attempt

February 2 - North Atlantic Ocean

Although Ellen MacArthur currently has a seemingly comfortable three day and ten hour lead over Francis Joyon's solo nonstop circumnavigation record, she dare not let her guard down for a moment. Up ahead, she is about to enter a zone of high pressure southwest of Ireland which is likely to bring strong headwinds, and will undoubtedly slow her progress.

Having sailed more than 25,000 miles to date, the finish lies only 1,500 miles away, but she will need to squeeze every quarter knot out of her big tri, B&Q, in order to break Joyon's remarkable 2001 record, set aboard his 90-ft trimaran IDEC (72d, 22h, 54m, 22s) - an astonishing 20-day improvement over the previous solo record.

During the past few days, Ellen has had excellent runs, adding valuable hours to her lead, which had diminished to nothing during the hard climb up the South Atlantic. She had held a theoretical five-day lead just prior to rounding Cape Horn in mid-January.

With the finish set between Ushant, an island on the north coast of France, and the Lizard, a lighthouse on the southwest coast of England, B&Q is expected to make her landfall at Falmouth, UK, where enormous crowds will greet 'Queen' Ellen, regardless of her finish time. For further details, check the Web site: www.teamellen.com.

An Amazing Time on a Crowded Sea

February 2 - The World's Oceans

It occurs to us that in the next week, there will be five round-the-world sailing events proceeding concurrently, or at least starting or stopping within days of each other. They are: Ellen MacArthur's record solo run (75-ft tri), Bruno Peyron's crewed Jules Verne round-the-world record attempt (120-ft cat) - both single-boat attempts - the Oryx Quest (4 maxi-multihulls around the world from Qatar, due to start February 5), the ongoing Vendée Globe (13 official entries, including the three who will have finished) and the pay-as-you-go upwind Global Challenge (12 boats, final leg starts February 6). All told, this means that, in a week-long window in 2005, some 31 boats ranging from 60 to 125 feet were participating in around-the-world events. Pretty amazing stuff.

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