Rivals are evenly matched along the fleet as Jourdain fights to keep Desjoyeax close

The Vendee Globe may be about solo performance, but the power of two is a motivational spur, as duels are fought all across the fleet – from Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) just 29 miles ahead of Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement), to British pair Sam Davies (ROXY) and Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar). In fact, one of the strengths of this contest has been how rivals have been evenly matched down the fleet. So far, there has not been one boat launched off the front not struggling to keep pace with a rival.

While Michel Desjoyeaux has his foot down again with a speed of 20.5 knots recorded this morning, Roland Jourdain is having to work hard to avoid seeing the gap widen. Jourdain managed to survive his ‘bogey’ day yesterday. On 17 December 2004 he had to withdraw from the Vendée with keel failure, and last year on the same date his mast collapsed in the two handed round the world race.

Undaunted for the moment, the skipper of Veolia Environnement is keeping pace. Diving south with Michel, he is managing the situation well and the gap is not going beyond thirty miles as the pair race – both now south of 50 degrees and 300 miles from the next ice gate.

Ninety-four miles behind Foncia, it’s a case of ‘now third, now fourth’ with Sébastien Josse (BT) and Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux). In terms of distance to the finish only 1.5 miles separate them as they battle it out for third place with their eyes on another goal: maintaining the pace to stay up with the frontrunners.

In the second group there are more duels going on: between Le Cléac’h v Riou and Guillemot v Eliès there are 33 miles. In spite of damage to his mainsail luff track, Guillemot does not seem to be compromised, opting for a southerly route. While Eliès has gone north. All of the second group has now passed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, and under most normal weather circumstances are more than a day behind the leaders.

Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) is making east at 10-11 knots more than 400 miles to the north, he is still in 20-25 knots of wind trying to repair his rudder mechanism.

Sam Davies passed the SW Australia Ice gate this morning and has gained a small handful of miles on Brian Thompson, while Dee Caffari is managing to keep Arnaud Boissieres in here pocket, 18 miles behind her still. Steve White (Toe in the Water) has still maintained good speeds overnight although he is compromised by pain in his elbow.

Dominique Wavre (Temenos II) continues to make good progress NE despite his keel problems. Passing north of the Kerguelen Islands Jonny Malbon (Artemis II) appears to have gained a few miles on his nearest rival Rich Wilson (Great American III).