Mike Golding and Bruno Dubois extend IMOCA lead in Transat Jacques Vabre 13/11/07

Mike Golding and Bruno Dubois continue to lead the IMOCA fleet in the Transat Jacques Vabre aboard the brand-new Open 60 Ecover.

Having taken the lead over the weekend the British/French team are steadily increasing their lead over Loick Peyrojna dn Jean Baptiste Levaillant on Gitana Eighty. Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier on Safran, who’ve been leading the fleet for the majority of the 10 days since the start of the race, are now down in fourth, over 40 miles behind Ecover. Team Safran lost out when they sailed a high angle and made a relatively late decision to go between the Cape Verde islands last night.

However, the leaders are expecting to run into lighter winds soon which will have the effect of allowing the chasing pack to close up. Ecover’s speed was still a healthy 9.2 knots this morning with a 38.6 mile lead over Gitana.

Golding talking to his shore team this morning said: “It is going good at the Cape Verdes. It was a bit of a quiet night with very little wind during the first part of it. The night is as black as coal, there is some high clouds but even the stars are slightly blacked out? We are delighted with the boat. In the end you are in the hands of the builder, we are fast in the conditions, we still need to test in other conditions. Before the JV we had only sailed seven days. The doldrums are quite substantial, but hopefully by the time we get down there it will be a bit better.”

In the Class 40 fleet Giovanni Soldini and Pietro D’ali on Telecom Italia still remain in the lead but Dominic Vittet and Thierry Chabagny on Atao Audio Systems have made significant gains overnight are now just over 12 miles astern. Yesterday they were down in 10th place, 80 miles off the leader but a tactical decision to sail down the African coast and gybe over to remain in the pressure has paid dividends and they are now set to challenge for the lead.

Further down the fleet British sailor Nick Bubb on Novedia Set currently 116 miles off the leader says they are now just within 20 miles of the Western Sahara but have a whole raft of potential victims within sight and plan to keep gybing down the coast. Bubb said: “The idea is to go as far as the top of Mauritania. We are just taking the best angle we can get along the African shoreline and gybing back and forth to stay in the best pressure too.

“Last night was fairly busy with fisherman and as you get told at the start of the Mini Transat, there are also pirates around and they are nothing like the slightly ‘rose tinted’ impression most of us have of them…anyway enough of that?”

The worst news in the Class 40 fleet this morning is that Alex Bennett and Ifor Pedley on Fujifilm have had to retire with gear failure. Apparently their alternator has failed which means they would have been unable to operate any of the electronics systems on board for the remaining 3,000 miles of the race. They are currently heading to Lanzarote where they will make the necessary repairs before heading back the UK.

Franck Cammas and Steve Ravussin on Groupama in the ORMA fleet are now over 300 miles in the lead but Yann Guichard who’s co-skippering Gitana 11 with Lionel Gemonchois and who are now in second place are still feeling positive as they exit the Doldrums.”It’s still a bit lively in terms of squalls, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel, which bodes pretty well.

“We opted to get round the anticyclone in the doldrums. It was a bit of a gamble but it paid off, as the doldrums were pretty extensive.

“The further you go to the east, the more you have an open angle to go down towards Bahia. We didn’t really know where we were going, but luckily the door was open. We’re almost out of it now and travelling at an average of nearly 20 knots. That should speed up tonight and we’ll be clear. We’re a bit tired as it was a long night? In the squalls, it’s a case of constantly having to change the sails: one minute, you’re rolling and the next unrolling!”