Vendee Globe skipper Bruce Schwab is hoping to become the first American skipper to complete the race

Vendee Globe skipper Bruce Schwab is hoping to become the first American skipper to complete the race. He’s now lying in ninth place – next to finish just 325 miles to the line.

Given the latest weather information, Bruce sees his most likely ETA to be Thursday of this week.

Tail-ender of the fleet, Karen Leibovici, crossed the equator early yesterday morning, so the remaining five boats in the fleet are all now on the home straight.

Currently battling his way through some rather lumpy conditions a rather tired Bruce Schwab is trying to make life onboard Ocean Planet as comfortable as possible, masking out the groaning sounds of the keel as it slams upwind with music, DVDs and the heating on high. Conditions for sleeping are far from ideal and yet as he closes in on Cape Finisterre, the maritime traffic is increasing, and a virtually permanent lookout is imperative.

Chatting from the boat he said: “Things are ok here. It’s a little rough but I’m making good progress this morning. I’m pretty close to the direct course, leaning a bit towards Cape Finisterre. I’m waiting for more weather information and then I’ll refine my trajectory a little. I saw two ships last night. When it’s rough I imagine it must be very difficult to see a little sail boat but I haven’t had any problems. I simply call them up on the VHF and have a chat. It’s always worst by Cape Finisterre – it’s like a highway there. It’s good to have a little contact but I’d really like to be closer to the finish. I’ll have to be careful to make sure I take short 20 minute naps as I know I have particular problems staying awake between 2 and 5 in the morning. It’s much colder and I’m making the most of my fuel to put the heating on. I haven’t done that since the Southern Ocean.”

Casting his eye over the weather situation for the coming days, the American skipper isn’t terribly optimistic. “I hope the wind will hold as long as possible. It’s fine now but it looks like I’m going to get north-easterlies in the Bay of Biscay. That’s coming right from Les Sables which means I’ll be able to smell it right from Cape Finisterre! The boat’s in pretty good shape down below. If the wind holds I can give an ETA of Wednesday but I’m likely to be upwind with a much worse VMG so I think realistically it’s going to be late Thursday or Friday. I know the race is almost over but the finish feels such a long way away!”