Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) out in front of the Vendee Globe fleet is now consistently making over 380 mile days

Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) out in front of the Vendee Globe fleet is now consistently making over 380 mile days. Shifting into the south closer to the direct course is continuing to pay off. Vincent Riou (PRB), who is passing the second and final Pacific gateway this morning, knows that Golding (Ecover) is even more of a threat than ever, in ambush 50 miles to his south. The three skippers are swallowing up the Pacific with a greedy appetite, stuffing down the miles at the edge of a depression. Cape Horn is today 1,735 miles from Bonduelle’s bow. Jean Le Cam has opened up a fine lead in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, his perfectly staged cavalcade in the cold and wet possibly enabling him to make Cape Horn this Sunday. Far behind him Sébastien Josse on his damaged VMI has now racked up a deficit of over 950 miles, the general trend a northerly option, under the double pressure of the upcoming depression centre and the nerve-shattering threat of icebergs.

For Dominique Wavre (Temenos), Jean Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec), Nick Moloney (Skandia) and also Joé Seeten, who have climbed up level with New Zealand, the Pacific gateways will be passed on a rather northerly course.

Seventy seven miles from Stewart Island to the south of New Zealand, Marc Thiercelin (Pro Form) is looking for shelter, either to make repairs or throw in the towel. A pessimistic Marc said yesterday: “I can’t work on my boat in the open sea. I am really worried before taking on the Pacific, especially as I have dismasted before (Around Alone 6 years ago). It still haunts me and I don’t want to relive such misfortune. The decision is really playing on my mind. When I start a job I always finish it. It’s the most difficult decision I will have to take. I have never retired from a race in my entire career. This time I’m afraid that the material problems will be more serious than I can deal with.”

Making a pitstop in Tasmania since yesterday morning, Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) has begun the Herculean task of repairing his boat, with his broken boom taking priority. For the most senior member of the fleet there is no notion of retirement, he will take the time to make sure he makes Les Sables d’Olonne. His enforced immobilisation has hoisted American Bruce Schwab into 10th position on the podium. 5 knots faster over 24 hours, that is a gain of over 100 miles per day. Conrad Humphreys (Hellomoto) is merciless with Benoit Parnaudeau (Max Havelaar-Best Western). The British sailor continues a fine comeback and should chip away 12th place during the day. Having been the last to enter the Indian Ocean on 8 December, Conrad will have caught up with the four competitors.