Vincent Riou has taken back the lead but the British duo of Alex Thomson and Mike Golding are going for the kill

The Defi Atlantique has seen many leaders and the IMOCA Open 60 fleet has fought tooth and nail with positions swapping round most days. Today Vincent Riou has pipped Alex Thomson to the lead with 4.5 miles between them. VMI has been putting the pressure on Ecover, who were sailing next to each in the early hours of this morning, and currently have 7.2 miles between them. Both ECOVER and VMI have made huge gains on the two front-runners, Golding reducing the gap by 120 in the last 24 hours. The fleet looks ahead to the Bay of Biscay, with 550 miles to go to the finish in La Rochelle.

Ecover has gained 35.7 miles on the lead since 0500 this morning and has successfully held off VMI, who is now 7.2 miles behind Golding. This morning there was only 3.9 miles separating them. At 0500 this morning, Golding reported to his shore team: “I’ve got VMI right next door. He’s been smoking it with 1 more knot of wind. VMI is a good reaching boat – It is going to be very useful sailing next to her.”

By 1100 Golding was sounding pretty happy, saying: “I’m just doing the best I can. I’m pushing left, trying to go round them (PRB and AT Racing), any thing is still possible – this is yacht racing. If I can get it down to 20 miles, which could be doable by the corner, it gives you the Bay of Biscay to catch them – so long as it stays upwind its not impossible. I’m actually having a nice relaxing day, making the boat go, and just had sausages, onions and a glass of wine. It is really quite pleasant. The sea’s quite flat and I still have 10 knots of breeze. The boat’s tramping along at 12-13 knots. It looks like there’s a whole around the leaders, which I’m just skinning the edge of. VMI have come further out and could potentially miss by a good margin. We’ll see.”

Latest positions

1 Vincent Riou, PRB, 549.6

2 Alex Thomson, AT Racing, 554.1, 4.5 miles from leader

3 Mike Golding, ECOVER, 614.6, 65 miles from leader

4 Sebastien Josse, VMI, 614.6, 72.2 miles from leader

5 Nick Moloney, Team Cowes, 771.7, 222.1 miles from leader

6 Joe Seeten, Arcelor, 911.4, 361.8 miles from leader