Although Jean Le Cam has increased his Vendee Globe lead Vincent Riou and Alex Thomson are pushing hard

There seems to be no stopping Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss who is continuing to work hard and make significant gains. Despite a knockdown in a violent squall overnight he made 20 miles on second placed Vincent Riou and is now just under 50 miles from the leader – Jean Le Cam on Bonduelle.

Talking from the boat this morning Thomson is still in good form although his experiences overnight which included an involuntary gybe in 25kts of wind with the kite up has given him cause for concern. “Last night was possibly my worst sailing experience ever with winds reaching up to 45kts in the violent squalls. I’ve never seen the doldrums like it. I had a problem with my pilot while blasting downwind in a squall. The boat gybed over and because nothing was set up including the keel over on the wrong side, she stayed over for half an hour. Fortunately I got the boat upright again without damaging anything.”

Meanwhile Conrad Humphreys who suffered his fair share of spinnaker problems at the weekend, is currently in the process of climbing the mast to sort out more problems, this time with the 2:1 spinnaker halyard that broke yesterday evening. He is still well over to the east and is managing to hold on to 12th position.

Jean-Pierre Dick, lying in 7th and following in the same track as the leading boats, is also in the process of carrying out repairs to Virbac-Paprec’s gooseneck although Dick has just reported that the wind has started to increase so the job will have to completed later. Commenting on the situation Dick said: “I’ve started the work but there are several more hours to be done. I was really set to finish it off but the north-easterly wind, around 15 knots, kicked back in again more quickly than forecast and I had to take care of moving the boat forward again.”

Despite losing a couple of places overnight Nick Moloney is in good spirits aboard Skandia commenting: “I took a big gybe west, to try and set up better position for Doldrums. I’ve lost a lot [in the rankings], but potentially doing better, and more comfortable. Feel good about where I am now.” Describing how a gybe is carried out on an Open 60 Moloney continued: “A gybe takes about 35 minutes in these conditions, and goes something like this…snuff the spinnaker, haul it around to weather (will become the new leeward side after the gybe), come back to cockpit for dealing with the mainsail…wind it in, take on the new runner, let the old one off, let out the mainsail. Wind not strong enough at present to have to take a reef (to prevent batten damage), so easier at present. Then a frustrating few mintues getting spi up again. Surprised myself how clean the manoeuvres have been. It’s a bit dodgy though on the foredeck, reaching high and losing your balance.”

Positions at 0300

1 Bonduelle Jean Le Cam 7 48.04′ N 26 01.20′ W 0.0

2 PRB Vincent Riou 8 32.88′ N 26 18.44′ W 42.4 miles from leader

3 Hugo Boss Alex Thomson 8 36.24′ N 26 13.56′ W 49.4 miles from leader

4 VMI Sébastien Josse 8 57.60′ N 25 41.40′ W 67.2 miles from leader

5 Sill Véolia Roland Jourdain 9 12.04′ N 26 21.48′ W 86.0 miles from leader

6 Ecover Mike Golding 10 04.40′ N 26 43.20′ W 141.1 miles from leader

7 Virbac-Paprec Jean-Pierre Dick 11 12.80′ N 25 12.64′ W 200.9 miles from leader

8 Temenos Dominique Wavre 11 19.44′ N 25 29.72′ W 208.1 miles from leader

9 Skandia Nick Moloney 11 31.48′ N 23 38.00′ W 224.3 miles from leader

10 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier 11 33.84′ N 23 12.48′ W 225.6 miles from leader

11 Pro-Form Marc Thiercelin 11 59.76′ N 24 24.68′ W 248.6 miles from leader

12 Hellomoto Conrad Humphreys 12 24.12′ N 23 01.56′ W 281.3 miles from leader

13 UUDS Hervé Laurent 12 41.48′ N 25 49.32′ W 291.1 miles from leader

14 Arcelor Dunkerque Joé Seeten 12 43.40′ N 26 25.68′ W 296.1 miles from leader

15 Ocean Planet Bruce Schwab 13 26.04′ N 23 36.12′ W 338.3 miles from leader

16 AKENA Vérandas Raphaël Dinelli 16 33.36′ N 23 41.96′ W 524.3 miles from leader

17 ROXY Anne Liardet 17 17.84′ N 22 14.48′ W 578.6 miles from leader

18 Max Havelaar / Best Western Benoît Parnaudeau 17 32.64′ N 24 56.00′ W 580.7 miles from leader

19 Benefic Karen Leibovici 18 05.68′ N 24 23.52′ W 614.3 miles from leader

20 Brother Norbert Sedlacek 21 49.00′ N 20 12.16′ W 866.8 miles from leader