The leaders of the Mini Transat blast down Portuguese coast towards Madeira 21/9/07

Although Isabelle Joschke continues to lead the first leg of the 16th Transat 6.50 Charente Maritime-Bahia (Mini Transat) as the fleet heads down the Portuguese coast, her main rivals are taking every opportunity to grind her down.

Joschke, the young French sailor, is racing one of the newest boats in the fleet – a Finot-designed proto – and has, over the last three days since the start of the race in La Rochelle on Tuesday, dominated proceedings but now the top of the fleet has rounded Cape Finesterre, her situation is looking more vulnerable.

Already, as predicted Yves le Blevec onActualhas hopped up the rankings and is now right on Sam Manuard’s transom in third place. These two are taking the direct route towards Funchal, Madeira, but Joschke seems to have taken the decision to head further inshore for the time being. It will be interesting to see how the top three, with their contrasting tactical ideas, progress in the next few hours.

The leaders of the fleet are now enjoying a downwind blast in the forecast fresh northerly winds of around 18-20kts and the conditions look fairly constant for the next 24 hours.

Further down the fleet the British contingent – Andrew Wood, and Dave Rawlinson are having their own private battle in 36th and 39th respectively. Wood is currently in control with Rawlinson having lost eight places in the last 24 hours.