Briton Mike Golding leads the Vendee Globe for the first time

Since rudder damage has slowed down Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac) – read previous story here – British yachtsman Mike Golding has taken the lead for the first time.

The solo skipper has a lead of just 30 miles over the compromised Paprec-Virbac 2, but is facing an onslaught from behind as his pursuing French rivals get ever closer to the 2003 record of 468.72 miles (held by Alex Thomson). Charging towards the longitude of Cape Leeuwin – 240 miles to the east – Golding became the eighth different leader of this Vendée Globe, when the leadership changed for the 25th time early this morning.

The pace has been nothing short of electric since the leaders reached the Australia ice security gate. Averaging nearly 19 knots overnight Golding has eased south east and turned the 34 miles deficit he had to Paprec-Virbac, to a 30 mile advantage. But the speeds of those chasing him has seen Sébastien Josse (BT) record more than 450 miles in 24 hours, Jean le Cam more than 460, and this morning, Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) made 464.3 miles over 24 hours, averaging 19.4 kts.

Golding is not hanging around either, 75 miles to the south of the track taken by Michel Dejoyeaux on Foncia, the most northern boat, the British skipper has been posting consistent high average speeds. But behind the pace is being forced as ever where there is now just 6.6 miles between second placed Dick and fourth placed Desjoyeaux.

Dick confirmed this morning that his plan is to cross the ice security gate imminently and then slow to try and affect a repair to his damaged rudders.

As the ‘second wave’ group head northeast to the ice gate, a bigger gap has developed between sixth placed Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) in seventh. This tight pack which has raced closely for almost the entire race. Comprising Le Cléac’h, Vincent Riou (PRB), Marc Guillemot (Safran) and Yann Eliès (Generali), they have together ceded more than 80 miles to the runaway leaders and are now between 300 and 370 miles behind.

Sam Davies (Roxy) slowed while she spent some time fighting from the stern of her Open 60 to remove a large amount of weed off her keel.

Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty (Groupe Maisoneuve) is making slow progress to the northeast as he tries to find a weather window to try and make repairs to the various different problems he has sustained.

Dominique Wavre, SUI (Temenos II) has notified Race HQ that he is taking weather advice and plans to leave the Kerguelen Islands for Australia possibly tomorrow.