Race leaders must balance finding better breeze in the north against a better angle in the south

730 miles west of the Kerguelen Islands, the Vendée top ten remain very much in formation as Sebastien Josse’s (BT) position in the north of the leading pack has given him an advance of about 8.8 miles overnight – presenting a serious challenge to leader Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2).

Josse is the furthest east and was about 47 miles to the north of Dick’s position in the small hours of this morning, while Josse – along with Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia), Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) and Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux) – have all been quick at different points through the night.

Mike Golding (Ecover 3) is heading south again, looking set to cross the trail of third placed Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) who is 21.9 miles behind the fleet leader Paprec-Virbac. Golding remains in fifth, but has drawn up to 50.1 miles off the lead, while the ever present threat of Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) in seventh sees the 2001 winner just seven miles behind.

Tenth placed Yann Eliès (Generali) is reaping more rewards for his position in the north-west, as the new system moves with him. Eliès was quickest this morning making 18.4 knots.

Arnaud Boissières (pictured above) quipped overnight about having two British girls on his hands as they are his next challenge on the leaderboard, but Dee Caffari (AVIVA) has been resolutely repelling the French skipper’s advances and holds an 18.7 miles advantage while Sam Davies (Roxy, pictured right) is more than 185 miles ahead.

Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) has stayed north of Sam so far, while Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) has plunged furthest south and is already at 49.37 S and making more than 15 knots. Fourteenth placed Stamm, 534 miles behind the lead, will have in his mind that at the same point four-years ago, Mike Golding was more than 700 miles behind but still went on to lead the race twice and finished third.