Race leader Michel DESJOYEAUX is now pointing on course for the finish line of the Vendée Globe at Les Sables d'Olonne where he is now expected some time between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
After passing through the Azores islands last night, Michel DESJOYEAUX's (FRA) lead is now 791 miles on Foncia and after a quick night averaging 15.5 knots he as eased off as he encounters strengthening winds.
In second place, Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) onboard Veolia Environnement is making improved speeds, whilst in the battle for fourth Sam DAVIES (GBR) should cross the Equator this morning having gained a small, increased advantage over Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA). She is now 56.5 miles ahead.
DESJOYEAUX has his bow pointed at Les Sables d'Olonne and will soon have just three figures registering on his 'distance to go'. But the Foncia skipper has a testing few hours ahead as winds strengthen and a front passes over him this morning which could assault him with 45-50 knots gusts and squalls.
Yesterday evening, DESJOYEAUX made his way straight through the middle of the Azores Islands; sailing downwind 13 miles from the coast of the main island of Sao Miguel, which he left to starboard.
A night of high averages, between 15 and 17 knots leaves him 791 miles ahead of Veolia Environnement although this morning DESJOYEAUX has slightly eased off. The strong winds are set to stay with him throughout the day, although will ease off slightly this afternoon. Clocking up daily distances of over 300 miles, he is now expected to finish on Saturday evening or Sunday morning.
Well clear of the gentler winds of the Azores high pressure system, JOURDAIN has Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air only 350 miles behind (553 miles in a direct line). While he is making a better course, some 150 miles to the east and closer to the rhumb line track, Brit Air will be slowed as LE CLÉAC'H reaches the high pressure ridge today. Following Foncia's route Veolia Environnement is heading for the Portuguese islands, but his wind angle will be much less favourable sailing on the wind this morning.
At 06:00 UTC, DAVIES had 80 miles still to sail to ease Roxy back into the Northern Hemisphere. She is making fair speeds and is gaining progressively from being able to sail a higher, more easterly angle although the advantage line was fluctuating with the rapidly changing conditions. She was 56.6 miles ahead of fifth placed GUILLEMOT this morning, sailing nearly three knots quicker than Safran which is hobbled in the light weather by a reduced mainsail area.
In sixth, Brian THOMPSON (GBR) has now made up around 600 miles in 10 days on GUILLEMOT and DAVIES and this morning is just 179 miles behind Safran, but unfortunately his chance of capitalizing still further are hampered by his slow speeds. Bahrain Team Pindar appears to be snared by a calm on the edge of the Doldrums and is making just 1.4 knots this morning, after a productive 294 miles 24-hour run, only bettered by DESJOYEAUX who made 338.5 miles. Dee CAFFARI (GBR) is catching fast, making 13 knots and is 183 miles behind THOMPSON.
Steve WHITE (GBR) in ENE'ly winds is back up to making nine knots making fair progress on Toe in the Water while Rich WILSON (USA) is on port tack in 25 knots of NW'ly breeze but should be set for a spell of rough weather, caught between two low pressure systems he is expected to see 50-60 knots gusts. And Raphael DINELLI (FRA) and Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT) have 25 knots SW'ly winds, 1049 miles and 1142 miles respectively to Cape Horn.
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 15:00 UTC 28 January 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 1090 miles to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at 791 miles from first place
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air at 1141.7 miles from first place
4. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy at 2209.7 miles from first place
5. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), Safran at 2266.3miles from first place
6. Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar at 2446.1 miles from first place
7. Dee CAFFARI (GBR), Aviva at 2629.1 miles from first place
8. Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA), Akena Vérandas at 3293.5 miles from first place
9. Steve WHITE (GBR), Toe in the Water 4149.9 miles
10. Rich WILSON (USA), Great American III at 5410 miles from first place
11. Raphaël DINELLI (AUT), Fondation Océan Vital at 7013.4 miles from first place
12. Norbert SEDLACEK (FRA), Nauticsport - Kapsch at 7092.1 miles from first place
RDG . Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB, Awarded equal third as redress
30 boats started
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