Just nine miles between Mini Transat leader Yves Le Blevec and second-placed Adrien Hardy 17/10/07

The situation is hotting up in more ways than one as the Mini Transat (Transat 6,50 Charante-Maritime/Bahia) fleet heads though the Intertropical Convergence Zone (Doldrums) on the second leg of the race.

Race favourite Yves Le Blevec who was, on Monday, leading the race by 80 miles, is now struggling to hold off second place Adrien Hardy onBrossard- now just nine miles away. David Sineau onBretagne Lapinsis also snapping at his heels in third place, 19 miles astern.

Competitors, now halfway across the Atlantic to Bahia, Brazil, are currently experiencing typical unpredictable Doldrum conditions with rain squalls and winds up to 45kts followed by zero winds which means the race will, over the next few days could become a bit of a lottery. Le Blevec in the lead is making just 3kts of boatspeed while Sineau, a few miles astern in third place is up to 14kts. Elsewhere, just 50 miles behind, the likes of Yann Riou onCameleonis at a standstill.

The leading Series class boats are also enjoying a good battle at the top of the fleet with Hervé Piveteau onJules – imprimerie cartoffsetmanaging to pull through the race-long leader Stéphane le Diraison onCultisol – institut curieovernight.

British sailors Andrew Wood ondomosofa.comand David Rawlinson onoceanchallenges.comare also neck and neck in 30th and 32nd positions respectively – over 200 miles off the front of the fleet. Rawlinson however, has reported VHF problems and says he does not have enough fuel for his generator.

Elsewhere initial race leaders, Isabelle Joschke and Sam Manuard both sailing brand-new boats, and who rejoined the fleet earlier this week following quick pitstops in the Cape Verde Islands to carry out rig repairs, are now in lying in 59th and 69th place respectively over 350 miles behind those at the head of the fleet.