Jean Le Cam takes first position as the leading pack negotiate the Cape Verde Islands

Jean Le Cam (VM Materiaux) has taken the lead in the Vendée Globe as the leading pack sail through the Cape Verde Islands. Le Cam’s direct route seems to have paid off, as he leads by 1.6 miles from Seb Josse (BT). Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) is now in third.

Le Cam’s route choice is some 80 miles west of Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty), and has made better speeds overnight, more than three knots better than Peyron’s net average. Le Cam was heading directly for Santiago this morning and may pass between that island and Fogo, to the west. Some eighty miles to their west Vincent Riou (PRB) – the 2004 winner – and Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac) lead the pack which have chosen to go to the west of the island group.

Dick is some 87 miles behind the leader but gained about 17 miles on the lead overnight, and this pack – Riou, Dick and Le Cleac’h – all posted good average speeds overnight and looked to have good winds.

Mike Golding, GBR, (Ecover 3) gained two places overnight, overtaking Jérémie Beyou (Delta Dore) and Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement.). He is the highest placed international skipper in seventh position. Behind him, fellow Brit Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar), gained from his westerly move yesterday, and cut about 20 miles from his deficit to the leader – lying tenth.

Read some of the competitors Blogs??

Armel Le Cléac’h on BritAir

“Daybreak over BritAir. The sun is finding it difficult to peek through the clouds, but it’s already hot. Some kamikaze flying fish landed on the deck during the night and I’ve been counting the bits of mess they have left behind. We can just see to our left the Cape Verde Islands and the port of Mindelo (memories of a forced stopover there last year…)

Thought I could hear some music from Cape Verde in the distance last night and maybe even Cesaria Evora…unless I was dreaming…

To keep it short. Am gliding south at the start of this second week and soon time to think about how to approach the Doldrums. We’ll see once the conclave has made its judgement.”

Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat)

“Since the start, I’ve been trying to find reasons to do the race. That is quite normal, as I have had to put up with two calm zones since Les Sables. Nothing goes as planned, but I couldn’t have imagined this sort of scenario. This is a universe I wouldn’t have signed up for, if someone had offered it to me.

I’m a bit like a spectator in this race that I have worked so hard to prepare with all my team for months and even years. So there was one question that kept popping up. What’s the use? It seems almost impossible to try to get back up with the leaders, unless there is a series of weather complications, which would favour the tail-enders, and that’s like playing the lottery.

But that does not mean it’s impossible. If I hadn’t given it a go, it would have stayed with me for a very long time, so that’s why I had to do it. At the moment, I’m under spinnaker and full mainsail with between 15 and 20 knots. Cheminées Poujoulat is gliding downwind with seas that are just crossed enough to make it a bit tougher. That’s why it was worth it.”

Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar)

“Last night was one of very light winds as I am close to a small high pressure, and I was sure that I would have lost a lot of miles to all except for Sam (Davies) and Dominic (Wavre) who are close to the same route, but fortunately it was slow for everyone. This afternoon was even slower for me with 6 knots of wind most of the time, and I used the calm conditions to remount the wind generator on the now truncated stern mounting.

I was leaning over the stern lifelines whilst harnessed in as well, and the job involved hacksawing the broken piece off, filing down the remaining piece, sorting out the wiring and then putting the generator on to the pole. The hardest part was to pull through the wiring into the tube whilst fitting the 13kg generator on, as it would have been handy to have someone down below to pull the wiring through from below decks.Not allowed unfortunately, so I had to make do with duct taping the generator to the top of the pole whilst going below to pull through the wires. Great stuff duct tape. The whole job took several hours, and now I need to find some wind to test it. Its not the most elegant looking mount now, but should work.

Lots more jobs to get through today as this will be probably one of the calmest days of the entire voyage, so good to catch up on boat maintenance. Sails, rigging, plumbing and electronics, all the usual culprits – even Nick, our boat captain is sending me emails reminding me of jobs now, and coordinating with the other shore team who are consulting on their various areas of expertise.

Still on the full main and the A2 spinnaker. Wind is starting to fill in so back up to 11/12 knots of boatspeed now. It is astonishing how fast these IMOCA 60s are in light winds, most boats would be motoring and we are gliding along at more than wind speed all the time. Fast sailing to come down towards the Cape Verdes tomorrow, and lets see if we can make some miles on the frontrunners .For sure we will gain when they hit the doldrums but that can be only a temporary, illusory gain, depending on how the doldrums go for each boat – at the moment they look challenging.

Spoke to Jeremie Beyou as he was calling Seb Josse but had the wrong number, we had a good little accidental chat, and also had an email conversation with Sam Davies, my current neighbour, and past crewmate on minis and maxicats.”

Standings at 0500 GMT, Day 8 (17 November):

1- Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux) at 21532.4 miles to leader
2- Seb Josse (BT) at 1.6
3- Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) 9.3 miles to finish
4- Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) at 87.7 miles
5- Vincent Riou (PRB) (mileage not polled)

Selected international:

7- Mike Golding, GBR, (ECOVER 3) at 130 miles
11- Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) at 239.9
12- Sam Davies, GBR,(ROXY) at 260.5 miles
14- Dominique Wavre, SUI, (Temenos 2) 310.4 miles
16- Dee Caffari, GBR, (AVIVA) at 421.2
17- Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) at 469.1 miles
18- Johnny Malbon, GBR, (Artemis) at 478.6 miles
19- Rich Wilson, USA, (Great America III) 618.8 miles
20- Unai Basurko, ESP, (Pakea Bizkaia) 627.7 miles