New race leader shows no signs of easing off the pace as top four break away

Although Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) has seized the lead of the Vendée Globe, there is no evidence of him easing off on the pedal. In fact the four race leaders have now broken away from the chasing pack, with a gap of more than 200 miles developing between Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air).

Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) is heading north-eastwards at 90° from the track in the hope of repairing his starboard rudder. It is going to be a tricky operation – perhaps with echoes of Yves Parlier’s legendary feat.

Mike Golding (Ecover 3) is looking for a haven and was making north at 5-6 knots this morning. David Adams, the safety consultant for the Vendée Globe in Australia has informed the authorities in Fremantle and Hobart (Tasmania), but he is believed to be seeing how efficient his jury rig is and how much north he can make before making a decision where to head for. Dominique Wavre (Temenos II) has departed the Kerguelen Islands this morning having made a fix to the head of his keel.

Passing the second great cape, Cape Leeuwin, early yesterday evening Michel Desjoyeaux shows no let up in the pace, gaining all the time at the head of the breakway gang of four. As the leaders angle SE again towards the next ice gate, set much further south at 52 deg, Foncia is 26 miles ahead, gaining 15.2 miles overnight on second placed Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement), more than 23 miles on Seb Josse (BT) and 6.7 miles on Jean Le Cam. Foncia passed Cape Leeuwin at 0730hrs, Veolia Environnement about one hour later, BT at about 2320hrs.

The second group continues its battle. Armel Le Cl’eac’h leads it, but is now 284.2 miles behind the leader and conceded another 30 miles overnight. Vincent Riou (PRB) shows no outward sign of being spooked by hitting a growler two nights ago and is about 22 miles behind Le Cléac’h while Marc Guillemot (Safran) and Yann Eliès (Generali) are still tracking less than 15 miles apart.

In tenth and eleventh Sam Davies (Roxy) continues to hold off Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) matching each other for speed overnight. Davies was 107 miles ahead last night and is 106.7 miles ahead this morning.

Similarly Dee Caffari (Aviva) has been resolute in her desire, pushing hard to keep Arnaud Boissieres, (Akena Verandas) behind her. She has been slightly quicker this morning, while Steve White (Toe in the Water) makes steady speeds some 90 miles north of the Kerguelen Islands.

Cheminées Poujoulat aboard the Marion Dufresne

Cheminées Poujoulat, seen here beached at Morbihan Bay ( read previous story here ), has been successfully loaded aboard the Marion Dufresne supply vessel. Bernard Stamm is aboard and though he is exhausted he is naturally relieved. The Marion Dufresne has now cast off and will continue its supply mission before it gets to its ultimate destination of Reunion Island.