Vendée sailors prepare for severe weather

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The Independent Online

Britain's Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson were among a trio of solo sailors in the Vendée Globe round the world race preparing for another severe battering at the bottom of the world yesterday.

Sixth-placed Thompson had already rounded Cape Horn in Bahrain Team Pindar but Caffari, eighth in Aviva, with 300 miles to go, took the difficult decision to hoist more sail in a bid to make the famous landmark before being hit by what is forecast to a vicious storm with winds of 80 knots.

"After looking at the weather and having my speed drop right down I became fearful of not reaching the Cape before the next bad weather hit," said Caffari, who has been reporting increasing damage to her mainsail.

She hopes to be able to find calm water once round the corner and stop the boat long enough to use some of her dwindling supply of repair material to glue back together the layers of cloth which have been separating.

"I had an incredible view of Cape Horn, with the moon really high," said Thompson. "It felt really good, but not as sweet as it should have been because I know we have this storm coming which looks like it will give us a bit of a kicking."

He, too, has a continued problem of repair work to the bow of his boat as he makes the remaining 7,000 miles up the Atlantic to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne.

Between these two is the Frenchman Arnaud Boissiéres in Akéna Vérandas but, 2,500 miles ahead and still in the lead, Michel Desjoyeaux in Foncia is clocking down to 4,000 miles to the finish and second race win after topping the table in 2000. He has a 285-mile advantage over Roland Jourdain while, in third placed, Armel le Cléac'h has heard he will share that place in the record books with the 2004 winner Vincent Riou.

Riou was dismasted after his boat, PRB, was dismasted following damage when, lying third, he rescued Jean le Cam from the upturned VM Matériaux.

An international jury decided to award him third equal.

Still fourth is Sam Davies as she continues to sail both a clever and effective race in Roxy while the other remaining Briton, Steve White, continues his remarkable rounding in the 10-year old Toe in the Water (Spirit of Weymouth).

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