Then, in the middle of the week Vincent RIOU got away again and repaired his lead to almost 160 miles. That was until this morning, when his lead has fallen off to a measly 76 miles! The reason? More than 600 miles off the coast of Portugal, Vincent RIOU and his two rivals are now no longer experiencing the same weather conditions. The skipper of PRB is currently sailing at the latitude of Vigo on a bearing of 40° off the direct route. 170 miles further south, down at the latitude of Lisbon, Jean Lde CAM is picking up more wind and is on a bearing 10° closer to the direct route. The result: Jean's VMG is 3 knots above Vincent's. The most annoying thing for Vincent is that he cannot keep his opponents in check, as he would lose all the lead he has built up. The tension has reached a climax for the three frontrunners after 83 days of racing. The suspense is still building.
This could play out in two ways. Either, all three run into headwinds, in which case, they will be forced to change tack and Vincent's position is clearly more favourable. The gap would widen once again, and Riou's chances of winning would increase. Or Jean LE CAM and Mike GOLDING may continue to experience different winds, enabling them to sail closer to the direct route. In this case, all three boats could well be battling it out together, as they enter the Bay of Biscay on Monday. That is something that has never happened before in the Vendée Globe!
Behind, Dominique WAVRE (Temenos) and Sébastien JOSSE (VMI) are continuing their own little race and are still almost neck and neck, with just 13 miles separating them, as they sail to the north west of the Cape Verde Islands. In the Southern Hemisphere, Jean-Pierre DICK (Virbac-Paprec) is still on a course due north towards the Equator, and is currently sailing off the town of Natal, which is at the north eastern tip of the Horn of Brazil. Behind him, Joé SEETEN (Arcelor Dunkerque) is desperately trying to hold back Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto), who has come back to within 140 miles of the French sailor. Bruce SCHWAB (Ocean Planet) and Benoît PARNAUDEAU (Max Havelaar-Best Western), to the south of Rio, are facing some unstable conditions, while to the north of the Falklands, Anne LIARDET (Roxy) is battling it out in light airs. Raphaël DINELLI (Akena Vérandas) has finally picked up some wind and will be able to pass States Island off the tip of Tierra del Fuego, and Karen LEIBOVICI (Benefic) is now only 300 miles from the exit from the South Pacific.