Meanwhile the sixth to eighth place skippers, respectively, Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA) and Dee CAFFARI (GBR), are closing in on Cape Horn and will welcome the change from vicious stormy conditions when they reach the Atlantic.
Tough Times For CAFFARI
After the worst of a vicious storm to the north west of Cape Horn, British skipper CAFFARI is walking something a tightrope at the moment, trying to push Aviva as hard as possible, doing the best to escape into her final the Atlantic before the worst of a second big depression arrives, whilst still trying to do as little further damage to her ragged mainsail.
With winds over 60 knots and mountainous seas, the trio who will be next to the Cape are being lead there by THOMPSON. The Bahrain Team Pindar skipper admits this morning that he had prepared for every eventuality he could consider, ensuring he even had knives and torches in his pockets in case he was rolled over while he anticipated the beating they were going to take at the hands of a malicious depression.
THOMPSON gybed south at 20:30 yesterday to parallel the Chilean Coast and at 04:00 UTC had 280 miles to Cape Horn. Hand steering through some of the biggest swells, he likened the 'exhilarating' experience to taking a 60 foot snowboard through deep powder snow. The Akena Verandas skipper BOISSIÈRES reflected last night on being knocked down twice.
At the front of the fleet, DESJOYEAUX has been doing his best to deal with the advances of JOURDAIN who has now cut his lead by 100 miles since Monday night. JOURDAIN has remained consistently in better breeze, around two knots quicker remaining on the same course, while DESJOYEAUX tacked again at around midnight last night.
Behind them Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) has seen many of his hard won miles evaporating in light winds, while Sam DAVIES (GBR) has been battling with massive fronds of kelp which have regularly attacked her daggerboards on Roxy, despite this she continues to make steady progress, quickest of the top five boats this morning.
Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) was about 20 miles east of Port Stanley this morning at decision time as to how, or perhaps if, he will stop or slow to carry out the repair to his mast track. He has lost fewer miles in the Pacific by being forced to sail with three reefs in, and the ascent of the South Atlantic would be painfully slow under that sailplan. Imagine how CAFFARI feels considering the prospect that she may only be able to continue under four reefs. She will not know what her actual prospects are until the strong winds subside.
Steve WHITE (GBR), while he has been going briskly recently on Toe in the Water, is facing up to what could be his biggest test yet 1,600 miles from Cape Horn. From this afternoon he will have at least 12 hours of winds gusting to 60-70 knots with seas to 8-10 metres, with squally showers of rain and thunderstorms. After relishing the long surfs and steady strong winds 48 hours, White will now see the dark, vicious side of the Pacific.
Rich WILSON (USA) has gybed back to the north again on Great American III, choosing to do so once he had reached about 100 miles of the track of a known set of icebergs. Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT) is perhaps showing signs of frustration with his slow progress in light headwinds, making a long northerly tack to try and escape over the top of the high pressure system which has been barring any eastwards course.
On 12 January, the International Jury made its decision concerning the redress requested by Vincent RIOU (FRA) on PRB and LE CLÉAC'H for the rescue of Jean LE CAM (FRA).
LE CLÉAC'H was awarded 11 hours for taking part in the rescue of LE CAM. These eleven hours will be subtracted from his final finishing time, but given he is over 400 miles behind second-place JOURDAIN look unlikely to have any impact on the overall standings.
RIOU, who was in third place when he was called to the rescue of LE CAM (taking into account that LE CAM was already out of the race following his capsize), will be ranked third equal in the Vendée Globe with the competitor, who finishes third. RIOU won the previous edition of the race in 2004 and was the technical co-ordinator for DESJOYEAUX when he won in 2000.
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 04:00 UTC 14 January 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 4698.1 miles to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at 241.3 miles from first place
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air at 682 miles from first place
4. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy at 1684.8 miles from first place
5. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), Safran at 1930.7 miles from first place
6. Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar at 2606.4 miles from first place
7. Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA), Akena Vérandas at 2755.6 miles from first place
8. Dee CAFFARI (GBR), Aviva at 2823.5 miles from first place
9. Steve WHITE (GBR), Toe in the water at 3922.5 miles from first place
10. Rich WILSON (USA), Great American III at 5053.9 miles from first place
11. Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT), Nauticsport . Kapsch at 6610.8 miles from first place
12. Raphaël DINELLI (FRA), Fondation Océan Vital at 6704.2 miles from first place
RDG . Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB - Awarded equal third as redress