Vincent Riou retains the lead of the Vendee Globe while Jean Le Cam takes a bit of a flyer out to the east

The top three in the Vendee Globe are currently 750 miles east of Porto Alegre (Brazil). Vincent Riou (PRB) still retains the lead but Mike Golding (Ecover) is pushing hard just 14.8 miles astern. Both are clocking up similar boat speeds between 16 and 17kts and seem to be pulling away from original race leader Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) who’s furthest offshore doing just 6.7kts. It will be interesting to see if Le Cam’s canny offshore option will pay off over the next 24 hours.

The next two on the grid, 768 miles astern of Riou, are Sébastien Josse (VMI) from Dominique Wavre (Temenos). Although there is 120 miles between the two, they are enjoying a tough battle in testing conditions. Jean Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec) will be the next to round Cape Horn. He’s currently 25 miles to the west and is being pushed by a strong west south-westerly wind towards the legendary rock. He will round it this morning while British sailor Ellen MacArthur, sailing her own solo round the world record attempt, is passing the Cape right now.

Joé Seeten (Arcelor Dunkerque) is the fastest sailor in the fleet once again consistently clocking up 330 mile days at an average of 14 knots on a direct course to South America. At this pace, Seeten, who is just 1,200 miles from the Horn, may enter into the Atlantic at the end of the weekend, after what for him has been a remarkable Trans Pacific, heightened by the fact that he has no foresails. In so doing he will prove a serious challenge to Australian Nick Moloney (Skandia), who’s ahead, slightly to the north.

The only concern Seeten has right now is keeping Conrad Humphreys (Hellomoto) and American Bruce Schwab (Ocean Planet) behind. In a similar weather system Seeten however, has a slight speed advantage.

According to the race office who are calculating the ETA in Sables d’Olonne for the finish it’s looking like a Saturday 29 January finish. This has been worked out taking the average speed of the frontrunner since the start until today’s ranking at 1500 GMT. The race time is divided by the theoretical distance covered during this period – 1,560 hours divided by 18,519 miles, which gives an average of 11.87 knots.

The following stage involves dividing the distance to the goal of the frontrunner, that is 5,161 miles by this average speed of 11.87 knots. In so doing they ended up with an approximate finish date, since this division leaving them with 18 days and 11 hours. This translates as Saturday 29 January, under the cover of darkness!