We're witnessing a fantastic example of close solo racing, says Mike Golding enviously from the sidelines

Mike Golding analyses the tactics and prospects for the IMOCA 60 fleet in the Artemis Transat as they head into a 36-hour position reporting blackout.

‘Michel Desjoyeaux’s retirement is a real shame for The Artemis Transat. Foncia is a great boat and Michel was sailing her really well. The leading pack will feel both disappointment and some considerable relief at his retirement!.

‘Seb Josse(BT) seems to be on the rails and is inching away towards the ice gate,Loick Peyron( Gitana 80) are pushing south of BT’s track trying to find an edge but frankly everyone else in the lead pack has been really struggling in the early night hours of Thursday.

‘It looks like at least another 12 hours of tricky light airs sailing for most but the south-westerly boats will soon start to feel the breeze filling in more solidly from ahead. This will see the rich getting even richer over the next 48 hours.

‘Of the rest, wellSteve White(Spirit of Weymouth), with his big separation to the north is on another roll and has been gaining miles on just about everyone. He stands to gain even more later – but will he be able to get back south in 3-4 days’ time when he is approaching the gate?

‘This is certainly a fantastic example of the close racing that IMOCA boats can produce. Roll on the Vendee Globe!’