Jean Luc van den Heede is still 18 days ahead of Philippe Monnet's record at a current position of 600 miles north of the Kerguelen Islands

Having spent yesterday learning about the eating habits of the Albatross and discovering they prefer President camembert cheese over biscuits, toast, sardines, figs and oranges, Jean Luc van den Heede is back into the racing spirit as he heads towards the Cape of Good Hope on his singlehanded world speed record attempt.

Sailing Adrien, his 85ft aluminium cutter, van den Heed is still 18 days ahead of Philippe Monnet’s record and his current position is 600 miles north of the Kerguelen Islands. If all goes well he should round the tip of South Africa in a fortnight. Commenting from the boat this afternoon, van den Heede said: “Today is a great day. I’ve turned my charts over and can now see South Africa, Madagascar, Reunion Island, and The Seychelles? It feels like the end of the Indian Ocean.

“It’s a bit like in a regatta. I’m looking for the best tack to head west, so I’m changing tack again and again. I hope to be taking advantage of the choice I made and pick up some of the low-pressure areas coming down from Reunion Island. They should allow me to improve my daily score, which for the moment isn’t much better than Philippe Monnet’s. It would be nice to turn the 18-day lead into three weeks, just to make it a nice round number.”

As well as playing Dr Dolittle with the birds, van den Heede has found time to carry out sail repairs which involved sticking on and sewing in two big patches, one above the second reef and the other in the fall. Commenting on the repairs van den Heede added: “The edge I sewed up is starting to fray again. However, I’m not too worried about that. I do have a spare mainsail, and even if I have to take down the one that’s up, I know the trip wouldn’t come to an end if it gave up the ghost. I’ve already put up a new mainsail on Adrien in 35kts, when there were only two of us on board. It would take me little time, but it certainly wouldn’t stop me.”

For van den Heede to break the current record of 151 days, 19 hours and 54 minutes, held by Philippe Monnet he will have to cross the Ushant finish line before 07hrs.16mins.01sec on 7 April 2003.

Current situation

Position: 1300: 40°12 south/69°39 east

Wind: 15 knots from west, slight sea

Distance covered in the last 24 hours: 155 miles

Distance to the Cape of Good Hope: 2,469 miles