Michel Desjoyeaux is now battling for fourth position and is just 38 miles behind leader

Despite the dismasting of Loick Peyron’s Gitana Eight yesterday ( read previous story here ), there’s no sign of any let up in the intensity of battle among the Vendee leaders. Now deep in the South Indian Ocean, there is less than 40 miles between the leading five boats as Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) makes a small gain to lead by 30.4 miles from Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) who is up to second. But surprisingly, there is now only nine miles between second and fifth place Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia).

Foncia has remained consistently quick. Desjoyeaux chose to go sharply north late on Tuesday (9 December) after the evening poll, joining Seb Josse (BT), and has moved forward progressively. He is second fastest to Dick this morning and has been waging a speed battle with Britain’s Mike Golding (Ecover 3) for fourth position. There is currently less than two miles between them.

With his route in the south, Bernard Stamm (Cheminees Poujoulat) is chasing down Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) just 14.2 miles behind and gaining close to five miles overnight. The Bahrain Team Pindar skipper reported 25 knots of breeze last night.

In eighteenth place Steve White (Toe in the Water – read Steve’s latest blog here ) appears to be heading north east again on a course that will pass more towards easterly end of the second Ice Gate and seems to be losing miles on the pack he is chasing at the moment.

The next low-pressure system is presently over the Prince Edward islands, or the equivalent of where Dee Caffari (Aviva) and Arnaud Boissieres (Akena Verandas) are. This will move over the fleet to reach the Kerguelens early morning tomorrow, while a bigger low is due to reach the Kerguelens Sunday yielding 40 plus knots of wind.