Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) has broken his boom and Le Cam extends lead

Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) has a 23.5 mile lead over Vincent Riou (PRB) this morning while Mike Golding (Ecover), has been in 3rd place since 1900 GMT yesterday, 298 miles from the leader. The top four are sailing close-hauled in 15 knots of easterly.

Behind them Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux) broke his boom late yesterday evening. The frontrunners are currently 450 miles south of Bounty Island, 798 miles from the westerly extremity of the next gateway – 3,440 miles from Cape Horn.

After breaking his boom yesterday Patrice (pictured left) has doubtless been in constant contact with his shore crew to attempt to find a solution. He is currently 634 miles south of Cape Leeuwin making 8.3 knots over a half hour period, while his closest neighbour, Joé Seeten (Arcelor Dunkerque), is making 15.2 knots in the same weather system. Last night when the incident happened he sent this e-mail: “My boom has broken in a crash gybe while under 3 reefs in 27 knots of wind. The incident happened at 17 h 30 GMT this evening at 44°50 S and 111°46 E. I´m heading east under jib alone and I´m going to think about the situation while I wait for daybreak. In principal I don´t have what I need aboard to make repairs so I´m going to have to think of other ways to continue my course in the knowledge that any hopes of getting ranked are over.”

Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) continues to lead by 23.5 miles over Vincent Riou (PRB). Since 1900 GMT yesterday, Mike Golding (Ecover) has been in third place ahead of Sébastien Josse (VMI), the latter continuing to suffer as he beats due east. The top four are all sailing in the same weather system, 15 knots of wind right on the nose. Mike’s new Ecover is showing off its versatility, making a heading nearly 10° closer to the wind than VMI skippered by Jojo (Josse), which is none other than the former Sodebo of Thomas Coville. Sébastien is holding on grimly with some long upwind stretches and is trying to get the best from his downwind boat.

For now Mike is 12.2 miles ahead, though this may well increase as the hours go by. Jean-Pierre Dick on his injured Virbac-Paprec has made 15 knot averages over the past 24 hours, with the best performance of the fleet having covered 357 miles. He continues to sail in a more powerful prevailing wind while his neighbour ahead, Dominique Wavre (Temenos) is beginning to hook onto a northerly wind which should enable him to escape an anticyclone just below Tasmania.

Marc Thiercelin (Pro-Form) has been on a virtually parallel course with Nick Moloney (Skandia) for several days but he has now adopted a slightly less easterly heading in the past few hours (70 degrees instead of 90 degrees). In terms of the weather situation, nothing is preventing Marc from following an identical course to that of the Australian, so his course will make interesting viewing. Further back, the tail of the fleet is crossing a small transition zone with lighter winds as forecast.