Further back in 10th overall, US skipper Rich WILSON is less than 70 miles from Cape Horn this morning and is enjoying a relatively straightforward approach having had smooth seas and favourable 20 knots breezes.
Among the top five boats the only threat of change to the ranking order is Sam DAVIES (GBR) onboard Roxy, who has pulled back a further 10 miles on Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) and Safran and is now just 36 miles behind.
DESJOYEAUX On The Home Straight
It was the one uncertainty that remained in this final stretch: how long would DESJOYEAUX get held up in the ridge of high pressure extending from the Azores high down to the Canaries? In the end, the passage through this zone of light airs did not last long and in spite of being slowed to below 8 knots, the Farr designed Foncia managed to get across as the winds veered from the southeast to southwest. Now the leader only has to head for the Bay of Biscay at 45° with less than 1,900 miles left to sail.
DESJOYEAUX then has to pick up the stronger downwind conditions a few hundred miles further north. He will have to negotiate his way past the Azores and that may not be so simple after all with a low-pressure area over the islands on Thursday. Winds are expected to be in excess of 55 knots to the south of the islands. Although the seas will build, these winds could offer DESJOYEAUX with the fastest conditions yet seen in the race. It will depend on the swell, waves and wind, but on paper he can look forward to sailing more than 400 miles in 24 hours, although at this point the leader is likely to be averse to any risk-taking. Then, to finish, he will need to avoid the worst of the storm brewing off Cape Finisterre before entering the Bay of Biscay, where conditions may well be much lighter.
After slowing between about 17:30 and 21:00 last night, pushing slowly but surely through the worst of the ridge, the Foncia skipper had a consistent night pushing averages around 14 knots this morning. Meanwhile his distant rival JOURDAIN has been pushing hard still in the best of the trade winds making over 16 knots for much of the time, but making no real impression on the 497 miles lead of Foncia which is now converging back towards the rhumb-line, making a NE'ly track.
Third placed Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) onboard Brit Air is well into the established 15 knots trade winds and is benefiting from consistent conditions, progressively accelerating as the hours tick by, making 13 knots this morning at 04:00 UTC.
Battle For Fourth
In the battle for fourth and fifth, DAVIES still continues to profit from her offshore position against GUILLEMOT, and has been quicker for much of the night than the fourth-placed skipper. DAVIES has made 100 miles back on Safran since Saturday night, in determined 'kick-ass' mode aboard the pink Finot-Conq design. Her gains should continue as her French rival is forced to move east relative to the coastline of Brazil's NE corner, and is 76 miles behind GUILLEMOT this morning.
DAVIES has made about 3 miles overnight on sixth placed Brian THOMPSON (GBR) onboard Bahrain Team Pindar.
THOMPSON and Dee CAFFARI (GBR) on Aviva look to have now escaped the slowest corner of the high pressure ridge, with Bahrain Team Pindar making 11.5 knots this morning. CAFFARI spent some of yesterday's light winds interlude making a better repair to her mainsail. Lost miles at the time should be returned by a sail which is now closer to 100% of its designed efficiency.
Steve WHITE (GBR) onboard Toe in the water is now level with the River Plate estuary, some 700 miles offshore and still 900 miles south of Rio but the British skipper makes consistent progress at 8-9 knots in the lighter winds.
WILSON, onboard Great American III, was less than 70 miles from Cape Horn this morning enjoying relatively smooth conditions (for the area) in 20-25 knot winds. He should reach the landmark around 13:00 UTC. Raphael DINELLI (FRA) Fondation Océan Vitale was 20 miles from the final ice gate this morning at 06:00 UTC with Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT) on Nauticsport Kapsch 60 miles behind him.
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 04:00 UTC 26 January 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 1928.7 miles to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at 497.1 miles from first place
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air at 1039 miles from first place
4. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), Safran at 2101.5 miles from first place
5. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy at 2136.6 miles from first place
6. Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar at 2428.8 miles from first place
7. Dee CAFFARI (GBR), Aviva at 2515.5 miles from first place
8. Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA), Akena Vérandas at 2929.4 miles from first place
9. Steve WHITE (GBR), Toe in the water 3660.9 miles
10. Rich WILSON (USA), Great American III at 5192.5 miles from first place
11. Raphaël DINELLI (FRA), Fondation Océan Vital at 6976.4 miles from first place
12. Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT), Nauticsport - Kapsch at 7067 miles from first place
RDG . Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB, Awarded equal third as redress
30 boats started