Vendee Globe skipper Conrad Humphreys has succeeded in replacing his broken rudder, and Riou extends his Vendee Globe lead

Vendee Globe skipper Conrad Humphreys has succeeded in replacing his broken starboard rudder with his spare.

Having hit a UFO and smashed his starboard rudder on Saturday, Humphreys limped his way to the shelter of Simonstown in South Africa (see photo) and begun repair work yesterday afternoon.

This mamouth task which at one point looked virtually impossible to tackle alone has been completed and an incredibly exhausted yet happy Humphreys reckons he’ll be out racing again tomorrow night.

The latest news from the race office who spoke to Humphreys earlier today reveals that he had to use two anchors and a chain as a counterweight on the seabed to line-up the rudders. This had to be achieved with a millimetre’s precision.

Humphreys commented: “I feel like a bag of bones, every part of my body aches and I´m as stiff as a rake, my body must have been on an adrenalin rush yesterday and then it wasn´t used to having so much sleep. I woke up two hours ago but it´s taken me that long to physically feel capable of doing anything. There´s no way I can climb the mast first thing this morning, but I will finish off the rudder hopefully by 0900GMT? I’m still conscious that I´ve got a lot to do before I´m out of the woods.”

Meanwhile at the head of the fleet Vincent Riou (PRB) continues to pull away from Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) but there’s still only 60 miles in it. While Riou glides along on a steady course benefiting from the now continuous low pressure systems Le Cam has been gybing constantly and is now virtually on the same track.

The Southern Ocean depressions are formulating themselves and arrive one after another on cue. However, the ridge of high pressure which is following them, is already beginning to affect the chasing pack (Sill – Roland Jourdain, VMI – Sebastien Josse, Ecover – Mike Golding) but it shouldn’t be long before another depression kicks in and sets them rolling again.

Rankings as of Wednesday, December 8, 2004 – 04h00 GMT (05:00 AM FR)

1 PRB Vincent Riou 46 26.20′ S 69 50.44′ E 0.0

2 Bonduelle Jean Le Cam 46 45.84′ S 68 17.76′ E 56.3 miles from leader

3 Sill Véolia Roland Jourdain 49 05.24′ S 57 35.88′ E 433.8 miles from leader

4 VMI Sébastien Josse 49 30.64′ S 52 54.40′ E 602.1 miles from leader

5 Ecover Mike Golding 50 50.16′ S 51 15.40′ E 639.2 miles from leader

6 Temenos Dominique Wavre 46 49.20′ S 35 49.92′ E 1292.7 miles from leader

7 Virbac-Paprec Jean-Pierre Dick 45 46.20′ S 35 53.88′ E 1320.5 miles from leader

8 Skandia Nick Moloney 43 35.60′ S 32 48.72′ E 1500.1 miles from leader

9 Pro-Form Marc Thiercelin 38 08.16′ S 35 05.96′ E 1593.0 miles from leader

10 Arcelor Dunkerque Joé Seeten 39 00.92′ S 32 05.36′ E 1678.7 miles from leader

11 Ocean Planet Bruce Schwab 42 50.52′ S 21 49.76′ E 1924.4 miles from leader

12 VM Matériaux Patrice Carpentier 40 07.20′ S 22 33.06′ E 1982.0 miles from leader

13 ROXY Anne Liardet 42 43.12′ S 12 40.64′ E 2256.9 miles from leader

14 Max Havelaar / Best Western Benoît Parnaudeau 41 45.28′ S 11 07.28′ E 2346.9 miles from leader

15 Hellomoto Conrad Humphreys 34 11.28′ S 18 25.88′ E 2376.5 miles from leader

16 Hugo Boss Alex Thomson 35 02.92′ S 13 35.12′ E 2516.7 miles from leader

17 Benefic Karen Leibovici 40 21.36′ S 7 11.52′ E 2538.4 miles from leader

18 AKENA Vérandas Raphaël Dinelli 38 57.00′ S 6 44.80′ E 2608.1 miles from leader

19 Brother Norbert Sedlacek 35 36.32′ S 3 48.60′ E 2846.2 miles from leader

RTD UUDS Hervé Laurent 01:00 AM RTD