Yves le Blévec stays in second while Isabelle Joschke limps towards the Cape Verde Island with gear failure 11/10/07

French favourite Yves le Blévec sailing Actual continues to lead the Transat 6,50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia. But second-placed Adrien Hardy on Brossard has closed the gap slightly overnight and is just over 10 miles astern.

The leaders however, those on the more direct route south, are now approaching a band of light head winds which is starting to affect their speed.

The super-fast Australian sailor Nick Brennan on Rafiki who has been flying down the African coast is now up in third place just 50 miles behind Le Blevec and is currently making pace on second placed Hardy.

The fleet now has to cross the obligatory zone imposed by the race organisers which runs between Santo Antao island (north-west of Cape Verde) and Maio small island (south-east of the archipelago).

According to the race office Sam Manuard (another race favourite) – on the brand-newSitting Bull- has a serious rig problem and is now over 130 miles off the leader. Although it’s still unclear the extent of the problem, the chances of Manuard (who finished second on the first leg) recovering are now looking fairly slim.

The Spanish sailor Alex Pella who was forced to stop and carry out repairs to his cracked mast foot aboardGeneralitat Valencianaon the first day of the second leg, has made a spectacular recovery. From 86th position on Monday Pella – who finished second in the last edition of the race in 2005 – is now lying 10th.

Cultisol-Institut Curiesailed by Stéphane le Diraison, the first series boat into Madeira on the first leg, is continuing to dominate the class lying in 11th position.

The lively conditions yesterday has led to gear damage and in some cases broken masts. The latest dismasting isSpeed Bonsaisailed by Italian Andrea Carraci – who was lying in second place on Monday. Carraci has hoisted a jury rig and is making his way towards an escort boat.

Isabelle Joschke who suffered gear damage yesterday while lying in second place is now resigning herself to the fact that she will have to retire from the race. During 35-40kt winds earlier in the week the pivot that holds out the spinnaker sprit/jockey pole shattered which meant Joschke is no longer able to fly her spinnaker, and also has some damage to the hull.

She spent yesterday carrying out the repair while still at sea but the repairs failed which meant she had no choice other than head straight towards the Cape Verde Islands. Apparently she says there is no way she can cross the Atlantic without a spinnaker and although she has not yet officially retired (still lying 74th) she will no doubt retire as soon as she reaches the island.