Michel DESJOYEAUX has less than 100 miles to sail to complete his second Vendée Globe victory and is now expected at the finish line between 15:00 and 19:00 UTC this afternoon.
Michel DESJOYEAUX's (FRA) first treat for the waiting crowds in the Vendée Globe finish town of Les Sables d'Olonne has been to offer them the luxury of a Saturday night to let their hair down complete in the knowledge that their champion elect is now unlikely to arrive before the middle of Sunday afternoon.
While the Vendée town enjoyed a lively evening, DESJOYEAUX was struggling to make it through a high pressure ridge. The shore-side fans were taking their evening aperitifs when The Professor was slowed back to just two knots at one stage. Since then his speed has picked up on Foncia, making a steady 10-11 knots in SE'ly winds which will back to give him strong headwinds and a likely finish time of between 15:00 and 19:00h UTC. At 06:30 UTC he had 82 miles to the finish line.
If DESJOYEAUX has felt a few pangs of frustration they are a world away from the difficulties of his friend Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) who remains in second place, some 130-150 miles from the Azores. Headwinds are hampering the progress of Veolia Environnment towards the island haven and this morning Bilou is course making a NE'ly when the most suitable islands lie almost due north. Meantime Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) has freed Brit Air from the Azores high pressure and this morning is making 11-13 knots to Veolia Environnement's 4.6 knots. Brit Air is now under 400 miles behind Bilou.
Marc GUILLEMOT's (FRA) Safran has been consistently quicker than Roxy in recent hours and Sam DAVIES (GBR) has been forced to concede 18 miles of her lead, Safran likely now to be into a more ideal power band for her double reefed configuration as the trade winds strengthen a little. Roxy is still 84 miles ahead and making 11.7 knots to Safran's 13.
Brian THOMPSON (GBR) makes steady progress in the trades also and has steadily squeezed up on Safran. Now just 262 miles behind GUILLEMOT, he most now fancy his chances when the duo in front start to hit the Azores high pressure system.
Dee CAFFARI's Doldrums have presented her with some of the most frustrating hours of her race. She has lost over 150 miles to THOMPSON and this morning is now 266 miles behind Bahrain Team Pindar. At 03:30 UTC this morning her yellow Open 50 was scarcely moving, but since then she has managed to make a few knots speed to the NW.
Since 1500 yesterday she had made only 40 miles, including no fewer than seven tacks or gybes plus countless sail changes.
Steve WHITE (GBR) is now 390 miles off the Brazilian coast still making a steady nine knots, passing the latitude of Rio. Strategically, like others in these realms of the fleet, White is not getting the level of weather information to judge his best options, to plot the arrival of fronts and so he is keeping well offshore. So too, Rich WILSON (USA) behind him, is often reduced to working from first principles, but the Great American III is the fastest boat in the fleet this morning, creaming along at 13.4 knots. And Raphael DINELLI (FRA), the skipper from Olonne sur Mer, has less than 30 hours to run to Cape Horn with the Austrian skipper Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT) now 133 miles behind him.
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 04:00 UTC 1 February 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 110.5 miles to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at 1293.2 miles from first place
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air at 1683 miles from first place
4. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy at 2604.7 miles from first place
5. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), Safran at 2688.7 miles from first place
6. Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar at 2950 miles from first place
7. Dee CAFFARI (GBR), Aviva at 3181.8 miles from first place
8. Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA), Akena Vérandas at 3648.4 miles from first place
9. Steve WHITE (GBR), Toe in the Water 4568.2 miles
10. Rich WILSON (USA), Great American III at 5919.2 miles from first place
11. Raphaël DINELLI (FRA), Fondation Océan Vital at 7238.9 miles from first place
12. Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT), Nauticsport - Kapsch at 7371.6 miles from first place
RDG . Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB, Awarded equal third as redress
30 boats started
Click here for all the news on the Vendée Globe.