Leading solo sailor Michel Kleinjans has had to slow down en route to Cape Town

It is not only the Vendee Globe competitors that are experiencing rough weather. The forecast has turned grim for the first four boats in the Portimão Global Ocean Race.

A small area of high pressure to the south of the fleet is feeding them strong easterly winds in an area where westerlies normally blow 11 months of the year. It is a cruel twist only a month into the race.

However, for the leading solo sailor Michel Kleinjans (pictured) there has been more to deal with. The main shroud from Roaring Forty’s mast has broken – again. In a short email to Race HQ he lamented: “The D1 shroud has snapped once again. I immediately tacked over and the rig is OK for now but it’s dark out and I can’t see too much. But it seems OK.”

A few hours later a second email arrived: “Fixed the D1 but think the one on the second spreader has also broken. I am continuing without ballast and only with a small jib and not sailing close to the wind. I just hope that I can make it to Cape Town with the mast still in the boat.”

The race tracker shows Kleinjans sailing due south, which in fact is not a bad direction given the easterly winds. He is a resourceful sailor and will sail slowly to South Africa, however his chances of beating Team Mowgli and Desafio Cabo de Hornos are reduced to zero.

While Michel was dealing with near disaster, the crew on Team Mowgli were celebrating. Not because of any great position improvement, but because David Thomson had a birthday. “Today was David’s birthday. He had a few presents this morning and some champagne this evening so life is good, if a little uncomfortable. Sleep is almost impossible as you clench yourself waiting for the next crash,” writes Salvesen.

“We had been edging along in 3-4 knots of wind with the big kite up, full main with me on the helm. We knew there was a wind shift coming at some point in the morning, but we just didn’t know when or how sudden it would be. In the space of about two minutes, the wind veered over 90 degrees and picked up to 22 knots – we need to get some sail down, and fast! Since then we have been sailing in 30 – 35 knots of wind on the nose and the seas have built up tremendously. We are slamming into many of the waves in front – literally falling off one and crashing into the next. Your stomach and everything else goes into free-fall. Like being in a car crash a couple of times a minute! How poor old Mowgli puts up with it I’ll never know but she is doing great. Still, making good progress if not exactly towards Cape Town and made a few miles back on those Chillies. Only 40 miles between us after 5,600 miles of racing and still all to play for.”

For a full list of boats and positions, click here .