As race leader Michel Desjoyeaux is back up to speed, his rival wins back 160 miles in 36 hours

With Michel Desjoyeaux’s (Foncia) speed back up to 10 knots, it appears that he may have escaped the Doldrums even before crossing the Equator. But in this unpredictable zone, you cannot jump to any hasty conclusions.

The violence of the squalls could still offer some surprises to Vendée’s clear leader. 334 miles further south, Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) must be feeling pleased after regaining 160 miles in 36 hours. At 13.3 knots this morning, he is making the most of the steady trade winds to win back the miles from his rival.

It may not be the Doldrums, but for Samantha Davies (Roxy), to the south of Rio, the effect is the same. Struggling in light winds her average speed over 24 hours has dropped to 6.5 knots. At the same time, Marc Guillemot (Safran), closer to the Brazilian coast has maintained his speed (11.6 knots) meaning that he is now just 35 miles from Sam, whereas 48 hours ago, 250 miles separated them.

The battle is raging too between the Cape Horn Trio, Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar), Dee Caffari, GBR (Aviva) and Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) off the Valdès Peninsula in Argentina.

On his ten-year-old boat, the Frenchman is finding it difficult to keep up with his British rivals. Dee Caffari is doing 16.9 knots this morning in spite of the damage to her mainsail, and has achieved the best performance over 24 hours. Caffari now finds herself just 70 miles behind Thompson and the same distance ahead of the French skipper, and she has been consistently quicker than her compatriot. But this group is expected to hit lighter winds today.

After a quick passage towards Cape Horn, a traditionally bumpy and windy first rounding at 20:30 GMT last night, Steve White (Toe in the Water, see above) suffered the transitional slow down as he turns up the Atlantic towards the Maire Straits. But at 06:00 this morning he had made nearly 100 miles since the lonely rock but, while last night his was pledging to do all he can to catch the trio nearly 1000 miles in front of him, light winds in the South Atlantic may thwart his ambition initially at least.

Rich Wilson is back in brisk 30 knots winds and has 1400 miles to Cape Horn, whilst the Dinelli and Sedlacek duo are making slow, but steady progress resolutely south of the SW Pacific Ice Gate, presumably deciding together when they will dip north to satisfy the gate’s requirement.