Vincent RIOU (PRB) passed 0° of latitude at 0200 GMT, thus quitting the Southern hemisphere in which he has been sailing for the past two months (62 days), and is the first competitor to sail in the Northern latitudes again. This morning he has stretched out a 127 mile lead over Jean LE CAM (Bonduelle) and 242 miles over Mike GOLDING (Ecover). He has increased his lead by more than 24 miles over Jean since the same time yesterday and 5 more than Mike. The lateral distance between the leader and Jean is around 100 miles, the latter the furthest West of the three protagonists. Mike is once again in an intermediary position.
The next obstacle ahead is the Doldrums, the first effects of which will be felt today. Whether this will see PRB's speed drop and his two closest rivals get back in contact, remains to be seen. It may well be that the 60 footers skip straight from a South Easterly into a North-Easterly wind without really stopping. By virtually all accounts the zone doesn't look to be over penalising, the weather files backing up that theory. Vincent is all too aware though that 'you always have to watch out for the place as you can really get eaten up in a whole host of sauces!'
Further back in the fleet, Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto) rounded Cape Horn at 0100 GMT after 72 days, 12 hours and 58 minutes of racing since the start in Les Sables d'Olonne on 7 November. Conrad now has a deficit of 3840 miles on Vincent RIOU (PRB) who passed the equator just an hour later.
There are five boats still racing in the Pacific, Bruce SCHWAB (Ocean Planet) set to pass the southern tip of South America in the middle of the day. This morning the American skipper is 76 miles to the North-West of the tip of Chile averaging 10 knots.
On the Pacific side of the race, best performance goes to Anne LIARDET (Roxy) who has racked up 251 miles in 24 hours. Anne is the fastest of the quartet (Benoît Parnaudeau on Max Havelaar/Best Western, Raphaël DINELLI on Akena Vérandas and Karen LEIBOVICI on Benefic). All four of them are gliding along in a prevailing Westerly wind averaging around 10 knots. The next to pass the Cape of this foursome will be Benoît. He is currently 600 miles from his first Cape Horn this morning.