While Mike Golding and Vincent Riou close in on the leaders, Nick Moloney prepares for another storm

The three leading boats have covered over two thirds of the Vendée Globe course and are now just 93.4 miles apart.

Any long term strategies are virtually impossible at this time as a result of numerous weather disturbances between their current position and that of the Falklands, a day’s sailing away.

The most important development in the rest of the fleet are the strong winds forecast from 12/1800 hours GMT on Friday between 150 and 130 degrees west. These should average 55-60 knots south of the sea region Albatross.

Nick Moloney (Skandia) is likely to be the worst affected initially, followed by Joé Seeten, Bruce Schwab and Conrad Humphreys. Having just spotted three icebergs this morning, Benoît Parnaudeau is likely to be in the firing line of this storm too, though his deficit on this group will give him less wind. None of these skippers are likely to be up against the full force of this system. As the leaders head up towards the Falkland Islands, they will be sailing in fairly sustained westerlies before they hit a transition zone. Passing through an east west ridge of high pressure is likely to prove the greatest obstacle for the trio in the near future. Once they get north of 40 degrees south on Saturday, the winds are likely to be a lot more stable.

Behind the trio, Sébastien Josse (VMI) has made up some good ground on the frontrunners and will be relatively worry free today in terms of weather systems. Tomorrow afternoon looks a bit more complicated for him though and he will have to try to get north of a depression, in the hope that it won’t take him too near land. At the moment things look rather favourable for the youngest skipper of the fleet.

Covering the most distance in the fleet in the past 24 hours of 352.9, Dominique Wavre on Temenos will be delighted by the news that he is not likely to be slowed by the ridge of high pressure between himself and Jean Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec. The latter is currently sailing in a favourable westerly airflow making great progress.

Nick Moloney (Skandia) looks to be the first to be affected by strong winds. 55-60 knot averages are forecast south of the zone Albatross with the strongest winds situated South of 53 degrees south.

For the tailenders of the fleet, those in the south will be able to make better progress though the risk of encountering icebergs is heightened. For those further north like Roxy, Anne Liardet is likely to suffer light patches, as is Karen Leibovici.