Vincent Riou, at the front of the Vendee Globe fleet, is currently on a roll but Jean Le Cam is not that far behind

Although Vincent Riou now has a 70-mile lead over his pursuer Jean Le Cam and has picked up the new breeze, it’s still early days to predict the eventual outcome. Making the correct tactical decisions on final stretch up the Atlantic into the Bay of Biscay is going to be tough and extremely interesting to watch.

Mike Golding has, overnight, been suffering from unstable conditions to the south-east and has consequently lost some of the crucial miles he gained yesterday. Chatting from the boat this morning an extremely fatigued Golding said: “The wind is all over the place and it’s difficult work out what’s going on and which sails to set. I can see the race coming to a grinding halt. I’ve started to run out of food, which I would have expected at this stage of the race, but I do have plenty of tea, coffee and Christmas cake left!”

Dominic Wavre on Temenos and Sebastien Josse are holding on to the north-easterly trades although they are not very well established where they are but they are making good progress north. Jean Pierre Dick aboard Virbac is into the trades, sailing upwind and not pushing the boat too hard, waiting for a header to tack on to starboard.

Speaking from the stricken Skandia at 1200 today Nick Moloney says that his situation has now improved thanks to the Navy who are currently towing him in. “I’ve been under tow about an hour and feel relieved to be accompanied by the Navy. It was a stressful night because the wind was building and it was difficult to catch the towline. Each time I got hold of it the line broke. After many attempts we secured the line and started on our route to Rio.

“Unfortunately as I speak the wind is increasing further, up to 30kts, and with the accompanying swell, I’m finding it difficult to steer.”

Moloney estimates that, if all goes well, they should arrive in Rio at about 1100 local time (0100 GMT) tonight.