In the face of a forecast of gusts to 70-85 knots and swell to 7-9m THOMPSON has been no further west than about 15 miles from the west tip of the island and the Le Maire Straits.
Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA) onboard Akenas Veranda passed the longitude of Cape Horn at 00:25 UTC, 45 miles to the south of the rock making to the SE and around 04:00 tacked slowly back towards the NE, his plan also keeping him away from the worst of the winds, reporting 25-30 knots of wind and relatively mild sea conditions.
And Dee CAFFARI's (GBR) passage round Cape Horn is also on hold. At about 60 miles from the rock she maintained a SE'ly course too and slowed about 22:30 last night, and since 03:30 has been heading slowly NE back towards the Horn. She, too will have to wait for her time to round the mythical rock, at least until the wind to shifts to allow her to sail downwind past the famous headland. Even then, waiting around in the strong NW'ly wind and cross seas (northerly swell and SW'ly waves) will make this unpleasant for the next 10 hours or so.
Making an average speed less than 10 knots, race leader Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) onboard Foncia is 250 miles off the Brazilian town of Porto Seguro, where the first Portuguese explorers stepped ashore in 1500. DESJOYEAUX is continuing to sail due north towards the Equator, which is some 1,000 miles ahead or the equivalent of four or five days sailing. He now has 270 miles in hand over his friend and rival Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) on Veolia Environnemnt who in turn has 417 miles on third place Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air. LE CLÉAC'H has been struggling for speed in light, fluky conditions as he tries to escape from an extended ridge of high pressure which seems determined to move north with him for the immediate future.
In fourth place off the Argentine coast Sam DAVIES (GBR) on Roxy had been making steady upwind progress, in slightly bumpy unpleasant conditions but for the British skipper that has given way now to crawling along in light and very fickle breezes. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) on Safran in fifth is 350 miles behind DAVIES.
Meantime Steve WHITE (GBR) has seen only a positive benefit so far from the big low pressure system, running just to the south of it. He has been posting some of his quickest averages yet on Toe in the Water during yesterday evening and has made around 180 miles on the trio ahead of him.
Rich WILSON (USA) sailing Great American III noted last night that he has now ticked off more than 17,000 miles of the course and is making good progress in 35-40 knots of wind and big waves, while behind him Raphael DINELLI (FRA) on Fondation Océan Vital yesterday observed the SW Pacific Ice Gate and is now 18 miles ahead of Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT) onboard Nauticsport-Kapsch with the pair less than 40 miles apart in terms of lateral separation.
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 04:00 UTC 16 January 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 4313 miles to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at 270.1 miles from first place
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air at 687miles from first place
4. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy at 1614 miles from first place
5. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), Safran at 1964.1 miles from first place
6. Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar at 2578.6 miles from first place
7. Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA), Akena Vérandas at 2741 miles from first place
8. Dee CAFFARI (GBR), Aviva at 2762 miles from first place
9. Steve WHITE (GBR), Toe in the water at 3660 miles from first place
10. Rich WILSON (USA), Great American III at 5012 miles from first place
11. Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT), Nauticsport . Kapsch at 6604 miles from first place
12. Raphaël DINELLI (FRA), Fondation Océan Vital at 6602 miles from first place
RDG . Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB - Awarded equal third as redress