Mike Golding is due to leave Les Sables d’Olonne tonight, eight days after he had to return to port having dismasted five hours into the Vendee Globe Challenge. He was due to leave the harbour at 1730 local time and was going to take his shore crew out with him to check the sails and rigging on Team Group 4. If everything looks okay he will drop the shore crew off and recross the start line of the Vendee Globe Challenge sometime later this evening. His departure has been delayed due to the strong weather conditions which only enabled his team to step the mast last night.

“To motivate myself now I have had to create a new set of parameters,” said Golding. “The record attempt is now the way I shall motivate myself for the race. I am not treating this in the same way as my previous solo non-stop round the world record. I could catch up with the back of the fleet, but I intend to look carefully at the leading boats and make realistic but interesting comparisons, as Team Group 4 has good speed on them.”

The front runners have now left the Canary Islands in their wake. Yves Parlier has regained the lead from Michel Desjoyeaux, but it is all very close with eighteen miles separating the leaders. A particularly impressive performance is that of Bernard Stamm who has moved up to fifth place.

Ellen MacArthur had fallen back to fourth place after gaining third off the Canaries. She wrote from on board Kingfisher today:

Position 23° 39.0N 020° 02.2W Heading/speed 224 17 Wind from 068 at 25.3 knots Pressure of 1016 Sea temperature 12.8 Sail configuration is 1st reef Code 5 Percentage performance 94.2

“Hi – what a day! Well the kettle’s on, and there’s that gentle hissing of the gas burning away.. Sounds tranquil if it weren’t for the violent motion, and screaming surfs! Today has been a sleigh ride… Non stop surfing, averaging speeds of over 15 knots, and surfs (even on the autopilot) at over 22!! I was glad to be away from the Canaries last night, and out into open ocean. It’s funny how confined you feel when close to land…

“RIght now it is dark once more, and there is that constant shaking motion as we hurtle down, across and through the waves.. I spent at least four hours helming today. Not only as it is faster, but actually an amazing feeling. As you ride up to the top of the wave and look over the next it’s like being pushed off the top of a hill on a brake-less bike… There’s simply no stopping you. Kingfisher is handling fantastically. The autopilot struggles in the waves, but we’re doing okay.

“As I came down below I saw a navigation light on my port side. I believe it was Mark Thercelin in Somewhere. He overtook me last night after the islands, so if it is him, it’s a great feeling to be back up there. It’s both exhilerating and frightening (JUST SURFED AT 23,2knots!!) I have my legs jammed under the chart table to hold my self in, the whole boat feels like she is one of those fairground rides which show you a picture of a ski slope and shake you around – though here it’s pitch black – there’s a fire hydrant on you, and it’s not over in three minutes!

“Time to go – Paella should be rehydrated by now – might be time for a damp nap in the cuddy!”

Richard Tolkien on board This TIme-ARGOS Soditic is fighting fit: “Well, I think I’ve slipped back a little as I’ve gone out west after passing the Islands in order to get a better wind angle for heading south but maybe I made a mistake? I passed the gateway two miles ahead of Joe Seeten and Patrice Carpentier was 5 miles behind him. I gybed at 0130 and headed west for 2/3 hours while they went south. Looks like I’ve lost 25 miles but I am 80 miles further west and am in a better position when the winds ease off. I’ve made this decision to get further west for the descent South and we’ll see if my position improves later. I don’t want to get too far in to the African coast. Watching the others ahead is h