If there was any doubt, Jean LE CAM (Bonduelle) hit the strategic jackpot during the passage of the Cape Verde islands this weekend.
He hung a big east upwind of the islands and once rounding them he got in some westing to control his adversaries once more. Today he has a lead of 27.4 miles over the previous leader Vincent RIOU (PRB) with less than 500 miles to the celebrated fickle weather system known as the Doldrums. Most boats have gone through the islands other than Australian Nick MOLONEY (Skandia), British sailor Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto) and Patrice CARPENTIER (VM Matériaux), who have opted to follow the leader's trajectory.
Of particular note this morning is Marc THIERCELIN'S (Pro-Form) fine performance over the past 24 hours. Marc has covered 322 miles (13.4 knot average), that is 56 miles from the frontrunner. The top 15 should round the last island in the Cape Verde archipelago in the coming hours. The American Bruce SCHWAB (Ocean Planet) will be the last person to leave the islands at the end of the day while the trailing group, lead by Anne LIARDET (Roxy), with increasing pressure from Raphaël DINELLI (Akena Verandas), will make her approach to the islands tomorrow night.
The passage of the islands of Cape Verde mark a turning point for the skippers. From here on in, it is highly likely that they won't see land again until the Cape Horn or further still. On their course is the island of Tristan Da Cunha during the descent down to the tip of South Africa, followed by the Heard islands, an island in the Indian Ocean which they must leave to starboard. The race now enters another dimension: that of round the world sailing…