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5 January 2009, 09:36 am
DESJOYEAUX Rounds Cape Horn And Extends Lead In Vendée Globe
A view of the Southern Ocean from onboard Foncia
Michel DESJOYEAUX has returned to the Atlantic after rounding Cape Horn this morning

Vendée Globe 2008-09
Les Sables d'Olonne, France

At 03:10 UTC this morning, Vendée Globe leader Michel DESJOYEAUX on Foncia rounded Cape Horn after 56 days, 15 hours and 8 minutes of racing.
Michel DESJOYEAUX's (FRA) time to Cape Horn is a little faster than the time taken in 2004 to reach the Horn (56 days, 17 hours and 13 minutes), even though this year's route has been extended by some 1,200 miles. Foncia is the first boat to exit the Pacific and enter the Atlantic Ocean - and begin the final climb north to the finish line.

DESJOYEAUX passed just a couple of miles off the coast of the fearsome landmark, reporting squalls of 35-40 knots, gusting 45, at around midnight in local, Chilean time - his path flagged by the famous lighthouses on the rocks. However, on rounding the tip of South America Foncia is experiencing flatter seas. After a strong NW'ly wind this weekend, the leaders are being greeted by a 20-25 knot westerly, likely to ease further as a high pressure zone develops off the tip of Patagonia.

"That's done. Foncia has just entered the Atlantic," DESJOYEAUX reported via email this morning. "Pitch black, so no photos, or videos of the rock at the bottom. Both lights are on - the Cape and the Eastern tip. The seas are finally calm and the wind reasonable: 23 knots, quiet weather if you like! Now off to some new adventures on the way back up."

DESJOYEAUX is now 120 miles ahead of second placed Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) on Veolia Environment. JOURDAIN is currently about 80 miles away from the Cape, and expects to round the Horn around eight hours behind FONCIA.

The Chasing Pack

Behind these two leaders there has been little change - the closely matched pair of Vincent RIOU (FRA) on PRB and Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air are now just 14 miles apart on this morning's rankings, with a 20-mile lateral separation.

In sixth place, Sam DAVIES (GBR) onboard Roxy continues to hold a 300-mile advantage over Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) on Safran, although Safran has recently picked up high speeds to become the fastest boat overnight - averaging over 16 knots since last night's position update.

These two skippers have also been notified of the redress they will receive for going to the aid of Yann ELIÈS (FRA). The International Jury has awarded 82 hours to GUILLEMOT as redress, while DAVIES receives 32 hours. With a gap to the next boat, Brit Air, of 1,300 miles for DAVIES and more than 1,700 miles for GUILLEMOT this is unlikely to change the hierarchy. However, if GUILLEMOT decides to stop to make repairs to his main he will have to keep an eye on DAVIES, as he is currently 300 miles behind her, which represents about half of the redress time he now has in the bank.

Further back, 11th-placed Steve WHITE (GBR) on Toe in the Water has been making good progress at around 15 knots to gain a little ground on the duo of Arnaud BOISSIERIES (FRA) on Akena Vérandas and Dee CAFFARI (GBR) in Aviva in ninth and 10th.

Rich WILSON (USA) on Great American III is set to become the next boat to cross the International Date Line, and is currently around 80 miles away from the Greenwich Meridian.

Sébastien JOSSE (FRA) on the retired BT is also making good progress to Auckland, currently around 100 miles away he is expected to arrive in New Zealand later today.

Artemis Joins List Of Retirements

Whilst the leaders look towards the Atlantic and the approaching finishing line, they know they can take nothing for granted as this has proved to be the most punishing edition of the race yet. Over half the fleet has now retired from this year's Vendée Globe, with yesterday morning's announcement that Artemis is the 16th boat to abandon racing.

Jonny MALBON (GBR) announced his abandonment following the severe delamination of his mainsail. With at least 7,000 miles still to go until Les Sables d'Olonne, the question no one dares ask is: will there be any more?

MALBON commented: "I am absolutely devastated. We {AOR II and I} have been through so much since the start and survived it all - I think I always imagined that if I went out of this race it would not be something I would have to weigh up and decide, it would just be something that happened and be beyond my control. The thing with this is that I could carry on for a bit but it is only a matter of time - it is no longer if but when the mainsail will just disintegrate completely, so heading out past New Zealand back into the Southern Ocean is just not feasible. My heart is telling me to go on but my head is telling me I have to stop and in the end it is true - I have no choice. Words cannot describe my disappointment that this has come to an end."

Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 05:00 UTC 5 January 2009

1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 7017.4 miles to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at + 120.4 miles
3. Jean LE CAM (FRA), VM Matériaux at + 481.9 miles
4. Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB + 713.4 miles
5. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air + 727 miles

Click here for all the news on the Vendée Globe.

Véronique Teurlay (As Amended By ISAF)
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