Riou remains at the top but Golding is still snapping at his heels

The situation at the front of the Vendee Globe fleet this morning is fairly static. Vincent Riou on PRB remains at the top but has a job on his hands keeping the ever-threatening Mike Golding off his transom.

Golding is now just under 30 miles away sailing fractionally slower than Riou, slightly further east. Meanwhile, Jean Le Cam – furthest east – seems to have picked up a bit more breeze and is now sailing nearly 10kts faster, just over 150 miles away.

The conditions out there are still tough, sailing upwind in rough seas in unpredictable squalls. The aim is to find the south-easterly Trade Winds which should allow them to free off slightly and increase their speed north.

Meanwhile, and Sébastien Josse (VMI) and Dominique Wavre (Temenos) continue their South Atlantic battle. The duo, just over 70 miles apart, are pushing each other to the limits and have clocked up some impressive speeds (325 miles) during the last 24 hours. The conditions for them are difficult but they are really pushing themselves in the strong winds. Wavre chatting from the boat yesterday said: “The boat is being shaken about and is slamming all over the place. Conditions aren´t easy and it´s difficult to get the best out of the boat. I´d like to have a bit of a respite.

“It´s quite difficult at the moment. I´m a bit dazed with fatigue, and I´m aware that I´m not at 100 per cent since my passage of the Horn. I feel like this fatigue could drive me into making mistakes. I´m now breaking down manoeuvres, concentrating more on each of actions and my thoughts. I have to watch myself in some way.”

We have not yet heard how successful Jean Pierre Dick was in search for a spot to complete the work on his boom but we do know he had sailed round to the West of the Falkland Islands last night.

Nick Moloney (Skandia) is continuing his descent towards the South American continent, sailing with cracked sheets just 210 miles from the latitudes of Cape Horn. The Australian skipper will make his entry into the Atlantic Ocean during the night. Joé Seeten (Arcelor Dunkerque) is less than 700 miles from the famous cape, and his direct opponent, English skipper Conrad Humphreys (Hellomoto) is down to within 1,000 miles today.

The officially retired Marc Thiercelin (Pro Form) left New Zealand last night, bound for French shores after completing a long list of repairs.

Rankings (Friday, January 14, 2005 – 04h00 GMT (05:00 AM FR)

PRB Vincent Riou 24 06.12′ S 29 04.12′ W

Ecover Mike Golding 23 56.88′ S 31 38.72′ W 29.8 miles to the leader

Bonduelle Jean Le Cam 27 34.96′ S 24 49.24′ W 150.8 miles to the leader

VMI Sébastien Josse 32 47.32′ S 35 10.56′ W 591.7 miles to the leader

Temenos Dominique Wavre 33 55.16′ S 35 43.96′ W 664.9 miles to the leader

Virbac-Paprec Jean-Pierre Dick 50 55.96′ S 61 32.72′ W 2083.1 miles to the leader

Skandia Nick Moloney 55 33.52′ S 73 30.48′ W 2664.2 miles to the leader

Arcelor Dunkerque Joé Seeten 54 30.84′ S 87 16.32′ W 3139.6 miles to the leader

Hellomoto Conrad Humphreys 54 07.00′ S 98 46.88′ W 3528.4 miles to the leader

Ocean Planet Bruce Schwab 50 52.00′ S 104 54.52′ W 3814.4 miles to the leader

Max Havelaar / Best Western Benoît Parnaudeau 54 07.44′ S 115 45.92′ W 4087.9 miles to the leader

ROXY Anne Liardet 51 32.44′ S 146 51.00′ W 5178.6 miles to the leader

AKENA Vérandas Raphaël Dinelli 51 27.80′ S 156 58.84′ W 5528.5 miles to the leader

Benefic Karen Leibovici 49 24.84′ S 170 16.48′ W 6036.9 miles to the leader