Sam Davies leads fifth placed Marc Guillemot by 11 miles as she benefits from stronger trade winds

After a long week in very light and unsettled winds, leading British yachtsman Sam Davies (Roxy, left) is firmly on the comeback trail, re-gaining fourth place which she lost to Marc Guillemot (Safran) last Tuesday.

While Guillemot profited from an inshore position, using the additional thermal breeze close to the Brazilian coastline, now the Roxy skipper has been consistently quicker as she enjoys stronger trade winds. As the pair duel off Recife, Davies now leads by eleven miles and is still going more than 2.5 knots quicker, expecting her advantage to increase this morning.

Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) has had the toolbox out again and spent most of Sunday and yesterday working on the alternator, cannibalizing his old alternator for spares, as well as trying to fix his wind generator. He is back in the groove again this morning making 11.3 knots and holding a lead of 126 miles over Dee Caffari (Aviva).

Rich Wilson (Great American III, below) passed into the Atlantic at 13h50 yesterday (26 January). He is leaving the Los Estados Island to port. In a message sent yesterday evening, the Vendée Globe veteran admitted he was tired, in spite of the satisfaction of rounding the Horn. Although the weather was very dull and wet, he managed to catch a glimpse of the infamous rock. He also spotted a patrol vessel, the first boat he has seen since the Atlantic, and he was in contact with a Chilean plane, which flew over him.

“A big day. Great American III passed the longitude of Cape Horn at 1350 utc today. Thus ’rounding’ Cape Horn at 56/19S 67/15W. I didn’t think that we would see the island or the Cape because the weather was gray, gray, gray, foggy, misty rainy, overcast, but after rolling out a reef (#3 to #2, 165 grinds on the middle gear on the pedestal winch), I looked up and there it was, the mist and fog had cleared, and about 15 miles away was Horn Island, very dramatic, stark, no-nonsense for the end of terra firma. I’m so tired from being up all last night again that when the Iridium phone rang this morning, after I had collapsed in sleep after gybing near the islands to get away from them, I awoke and I didn’t know where I was. Very disconcerting!

“Last night as we approached the Cape Horn plateau, I went into the cockpit to look around, when, for the first time since Brazil, I saw a light–dead ahead and about 3 miles away. It turned out to be a stationary fishing patrol vessel that was well lit, and after I saw it the radar alarm went off having just detected the ship. So it did its job. I left the radar on the rest of the night–I guess we’re back in civilization now.

“This afternoon, after the excitement had worn off a bit, I was at the chart table studying the next weather, and suddenly VROOOOOOOOOM! We were buzzed by an airplane. Went on deck, saw it come back, low, and bank around the stern, with the word “Naval” on the side. I went and listened on VHF radio, and the plane, which was part of the Chilean Naval Patrol, called. We chatted a bit, they came back overhead several times, and then departed. My first contact with land.”

After hitching north overnight to extract himself from an unstable ridge of lighter breeze extending off the Azores High, Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) is back on a direct course for Les Sables d’Olonne – making 13 knots in a building SW’ly breeze.

The Foncia skipper, 900 miles to the west of Madeira, has regained around 10 miles over Roland Jourdain since yesterday afternoon. Bilou still has to negotiate this awkward corner of the high-pressure system. Jourdain has no real options other than to try to climb up the wake of Desjoueaux, following the same track. Jourdain is slightly quicker this morning but will start to encounter the lighter winds later today as he follows Desjoyeaux round the edge of the glue pot high pressure system.