Vincent Riou on PRB has just knocked 4.5 days off the record to Cape Leeuwin

The first to cross the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope on 1st December, Vincent Riou made the second legendary ‘summit’ of Cape Leeuwin on the western coast of Australia shortly before 0100 GMT this morning. It took him just 36 days, 11 hours and 48 minutes for him to cover the distance from Les Sables d’Olonne.

In so doing he takes the record from his predecessor and friend Michel Desjoyeaux, who passed this same point four years ago (on the same boat) after 40 days 23 hours and 49 minutes. That is an advance of 4 days and 12 hours and a virtual lead of 1 487 miles! The pace behind the leader is equally as impressive with Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) still hot on his trail and Jourdain coming back to within 225 miles of the leader and just 165 miles behind Bonduelle.

With the seas having become more ordered, the leading sailors in this Vendée Globe can loosen the reins and let their boats go for it. The gaps are closing. Roland Jourdain, skipper of Sill et Véolia, has made particularly startling progress after having reduced his deficit of over 550 miles last week to just 225, covering 431 miles in the past 24 hours at an average pace of 18.2 knots.

The Pacific and its promise of a well ordered swell are sharpening the appetites and it is the time for speed and positioning to get the best wind angles. Mike Golding (Ecover) has passed the gateway to the south-west of Australia in the wake of Sébastien Josse (VMI). The club of five are back together once again, south bound towards the next gateway under Tasmania, which they hope to reach in less than two days time given their current speed.

Dominique Wavre (Temenos), Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec) and Nick Moloney (Skandia) are being held up behind, caught in a powerful front, and searching for less pressure in the north. To the north is where American Bruce Schwab (Ocean Planet) has joined up with Marc Thiercelin (ProForm), considerably higher than the direct route but with much more gentle conditions and more regular winds.

The American’s companion for a long time, Patrice Carpentier (VM Matériaux), is now making 13 knot averages towards the Kerguelen Islands with Joé Seeten (Arcelor Dunkerque) in his sights. At the rear of the fleet, British sailor Conrad Humphreys, has finally found some stronger winds. He has distanced himself from the Agulhas Plateau and is gradually lengthening his stride to the south-east, 3 600 miles from the leader Vincent Riou.