In more favourable winds the Vendée skippers are pushing south making around 12 knots

It was a near perfect night’s sailing for the competitors of the Vendée Globe. With favourable 15-18 knot northerly winds, the solo skippers are making around 12 knots heading towards the islands of Maderia.

Jean Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) has the lead again overnight, taking a slightly more offshore route than Seb Josse (BT) who is the most easterly of the breakaway group of six – which maintains a distance of about 30 miles on the chasing pack.

This morning Josse was about 195 miles NWW of Lisbon, while fifth placed Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) is the most offshore, about 40 miles further west. Under moonlit conditions Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) had to make a stop of about half an hour, around 0200hrs GMT, to remove an obstruction from his keel.

There is still only 15 miles between the leader and sixth placed Vincent Riou (PRB). Yannick Bestaven ( confirmed last night that he has officially retired from the race. As for the Brits, Mike Golding (Ecover 3, pictured) is still in the strongest position, despite falling from eighth last night. He is now in eleventh, 3.9 miles behind Marc Guillemot (Safran). Dee Caffari (AVIVA) in twelfth has made a progressive gain on thirteenth placed Sam Davies (ROXY), Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) is still fourteenth.

Jonny Malbon (Artemis), in nineteenth, reported this morning: “All good on board. Settling into a routine now and hope to start catching some miles back up. A very difficult few days, but the boat is in good shape. I have some damage to my traveller system that I will fix today. I will try and get some rest as well.”

Back in France, Alex Thomson and a damaged Hugo Boss arrived back outside Les Sables d’Olonne at around 0500hrs GMT this morning. He had to wait for the tide to enter the port before being able to lift the boat out and make an assessment of the crack in his hull side.

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) has his bowsprit repaired now and the mast only needs stepping, which should enable the Swiss sailor to set off again this evening (12 November). For Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty (Maisonneuve) who arrived back in port during the night, the pit stop could well take a little longer than expected. The French sailor has major structural problems to deal with and an inspection is set to be carried out this morning, while Marc Thiercelin (DCNS) is now docked in La Coruna in Spain.

On arrival in Les Sables d’Olonne this morning Dejeanty recalled what had happened: “It was as the front was going over in the middle of a squall. I had just changed tack and was taking advantage of the wind dropping off to stack inside the boat. A wave that was more violent than the others lifted up the boat. It felt a bit like floating in space. The boat came crashing down. I think she came down on two big waves, one at the bow and one astern.

The keel between the two made a loud cracking sound. It was like a gun going off inside the boat. My ears were ringing. On the way back, the water was halfway up to my knees inside, but fortunately the pumps worked perfectly. Structurally inside, nothing has changed. I don’t really understand. I have sailed 25,000 miles with the boat and have never seen that. It was just bad luck and that’s what I find hard to take. I had already experienced heavy seas like that before on several occasions. Maybe the only difference was the boat was loaded in Vendée Globe mode, meaning the strains were that much higher. I think the boat has done well given the violence of the impact. Personally I took a while to recover. We’ll see what we can do. An engineer is on his way and an expert should be here later today to look at the damage more closely. With the team we’ll discuss whether to set out again or not.”

For a full list of boat positions, click here .