The leading two boats are expected through the last of the Southern Ocean gates today

The final day of 2008 and the leading duo will pass the last of the Southern Ocean security gates today. Michel Desjoueyaux consistent leader for 15 days is expecting to round Cape Horn between the 4 and 5 January next year.

Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) and Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) are again back on the concertina effect. Fifty miles separated them yesterday and 109 today, and the tune has been playing for several days. In the 200-2001 edition, they were in a similar situation, except that Roland Jourdain was compromised as his mast track was broken.

Jourdain crossed a small ridge early yesterday evening and was slowed but was soon back up to speed, making 22knots at one point last night in pursuit of Desjoyeaux, who has less than 80 miles to go to the last of the gates in the Big South.

Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) has taken fourth place from Vincent Riou (PRB), but both have now found better conditions allowing them to stop the distance to the leaders increasing, as it is now stabilised around 560 miles. The five frontrunners are sailing practically twice as fast as the five at the rear. Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water), in 12th place is facing headwinds to the south of New Zealand and is having to tack upwind to pass Campbell Island.

Among the Vendée Globe fleet’s enduring duels, while Le Cléac’h again has the upper hand over his dance partner Vincent Riou this morning, so too Dee Caffari, GBR, (Aviva) is back in front of Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verendas), but in terms of DTF there is still only one mile between them.

Steve White has wet, upwind conditions aboard his mobile workshop Toe in the Water, well into the process of stabilizing his gooseneck. Jonny Malbon, GBR, (Artemis II) is regularly making better speeds and is due to pass into the Pacific imminently, while Norbert Sedlacek, AUT (Nauticsport-Kapsch) and Raphael Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vital) passed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin yesterday evening.

Please note that there are some technical errors in the ranking this morning. Armel Le Cléac’h did not cover 533 miles in 24h, which would have been a new record! The same goes for the 466 miles on the scoreboard for Vincent Riou. Nevertheless the skippers of Brit Air and PRB were the fastest in the fleet over the past 24 hours.

Fourteen boats have now retired. For a full list of boat positions, click here .