Vendee Globe leader Jean Le Cam rounded Cape Horn this morning bound for Sables d'Olonne

At 0515 GMT this morning, Vendee Globe leader Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) crossed the longitude of Cape Horn, after 56 days 17 hours and 13 minutes of racing.

In so doing the time established on 10 January 2001 by Michel Desjoyeaux during the previous edition of the Vendée Globe was improved upon by over five days. He is finishing with his express crossing of the Pacific and is preparing to enter the Atlantic with a lead of over 190 miles over his pursuer Vincent Riou (PRB).

However, Riou and British sailor Mike Golding (Ecover) are on the attack and monopolising while Le Cam slows down ahead in the wind shadows round Tierra del Fuego. After a double gybe under Tierra del Fuego, Le Cam left the islands of Diego Ramirez to starboard to pass the third of the great capes – Cape Horn.

Since crossing the International Date Line on 22 December, Le Cam has raced a surprisingly effective Transpacific with his virtually pure easting. Well postioned along the latitude of the two safety gateways and born by a hugely generous depression spread right across the ocean, Bonduelle was able to trace a rectilinear wake towards the South American continent.

Masking the stress linked with the icebergs by his legendary grouchiness, Le Cam was able to line up his Lombard design along the edge of the depressions with diabolical precision. Playing his high speed card to remain in the heart of the depression systems, he was able to avoid any inopportune gybes and save on the miles along the course. This strategy enabled him to rack up a lead of as much as 265 miles over Riou and 340 miles over Golding at a given point.

The latter duo, more on the hunt than ever, will benefit from a slight reduction in speed for the leader today to make up some fast ground in a very strong and well-established north-westerly.

The two men are on the attack and Riou, clocked at 23 knots of instantaneous speed has scored a 402 mile day! Golding is making great progress too and will doubtless be rejoicing in the fact that he will be inside his desired 300 mile deficit at the Horn.

Two new duels are now being fought further back in the ranking: battling it out for 4th place, Dominique Wavre (Temenos) and Sébastien Josse (VMI) are not necessarily fighting on even terms. Josse, the youngest of the race, is sailing in a westerly airflow forcing him to go downwind. Buty he no longer has use of his foresails since the loss of his bowsprit during a collision with a growler.

The experienced Dominique Wavre has been able to clock up the miles while keeping his boat in good shape after two terrible gales, one 24 hours after the other. He has got Temenos to within just 346 miles of VMI, after being as much as 700 miles behind at one point!

Within sight of the International Date Line, the American Bruce Schwab (Ocean Planet) is resisting. Schwab is having some trouble seeing himself as the 8th ‘victim’ of Conrad Humphreys (Hellomoto), who has rocketed up the ranking from 17th to 10th place. The two skippers are sailing on very similar headings at fairly even speeds in a light south-westerly wind, in search of the pressure which has finally enabled Joé Seeten (Arcelor Dunkerque), to get going again, 400 miles ahead of them.

At the tail of the fleet Karen Leibovici (Benefic) has reduced her deficit on Raphaël Dinelli (Akena Verandas) to just 124 miles.