If all goes to plan Jean Luc van den Heede could finish his global challenge as early as 10 March

Jean Luc van den Heede is likely to complete his westabout round the world solo challenge anywhere between 26 and 28 days ahead of the current record set by Philippe Monnet.

Van den Heede, who set off from Les Sables d’Olonne on 7 November last year on his fourth attempt at this global challenge aboard his 85ft cutter Adrien is now in the North Atlantic and making the most of the north-east trade winds. Commenting from the boat den Heede said: “The North Atlantic is currently allowing me to take back what its southern half and the Doldrums took away from me! In fact, trade winds are powerful to the same extent as those in the south were weak. I would have liked the opposite, as with a wind coming from behind I need more wind than with a beating wind. But I shouldn’t complain too much, as in five days, I’ve gained back one and a half days over Philippe Monnet!”

According to den Heede, if all goes well and the forecast runs true to form, he should finish sometime between Wednesday 10 March and Friday 12 March. He added: “That would allow me to be back in Les Sables d’Olonne at the weekend or at best with Friday evening’s tide and at worst with Sunday morning’s… which is an extraordinary and very pleasant chance occurrence!

“In the meantime I’m concentrating on the job in hand. As planned, I did some touring around the Cape Verde Islands yesterday. I got quite close and sailed on the windward side of Fogo to avoid losing the wind off Santiago. These volcanic islands are very high (2,829m) and I took the same photo as I took on the way down with Fogo’s crater emerging out of the clouds. Indeed, I passed between these two islands on the outward leg, so crossed my own path from the 17 November 2003. It had been quite some time since I’d seen houses, roads and cars. So you can see, I’m slowly readapting myself to getting back to civilisation!”

Day 114 Position19°23N / 27°33W

Wind25 knots from ENE, moderate sea

Temperaturesday 25° / night 17° / sea 22°

Distance covered in the last 24H311 miles

To the finish2,301 miles

Lead over Monnet25 days and 11 hours