Jean LE CAM has taken the lead in the Vendée Globe as the leaders negotiate their way through the Cape Verde Islands.
Jean LE CAM's (FRA) direct route has paid off on VM Materiaux and he leads by 1.6 miles from Seb JOSSE (BT). Loïck PEYRON (Gitana Eighty), who had been leading since day four, has now dropped to third, 9.3 miles behind. A big gap has opened out between the three leaders and the rest of the fleet, with fourth place Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) 87.7 miles back. Of the non-French skippers, Mike GOLDLING (GBR) on Ecover 3 passes two boats to eighth place and is the top international entry. Meanwhile Canadian Derek HATFIELD (Algimouss Spirit of Canada) still struggling in light winds off Portuguese coast.
The crucial Cape Verde strategies among the top five boats have yet to really play out and provide their net result, but LE CAM (VM Matériaux) became this Vendée Globe's sixth skipper to lead the race when he eased ahead during the passage through the Cape Verde Islands. LE CAM's direct route choice, some 80 miles to west of PEYRON (Gitana Eighty) - who had lead since Thursday morning - seems to have paid off.
Gitana Eighty made two sharp turns last night to pass to the west of the island of Sao Nicolau, while JOSSE (BT) remains a steady second. Gitana Eighty is third 9.3 miles behind. In the east LE CAM has made better speeds overnight, more than three knots better than PEYRON's net average. LE CAM was heading directly for Santiago this morning and may pass between that island and Fogo, to the west.
Some 80 miles to their west Vincent RIOU (PRB), the 2004 race winner, and Jean-Pierre DICK (Paprec-Virbac) lead the pack which have chosen to go to the west of the island group. DICK is some 87 miles behind the leader but gained about 17 miles on the lead overnight, and this pack - RIOU, DICK and LE CLÉAC'H - all posted good average speeds overnight and looked to have good winds. GOLDING (Ecover 3) gained two places overnight, overturning the advantages of Jérémie BEYOU (Delta Dore) and Roland JOURDAIN (Veolia Environnement.). His compatriot Brian THOMPSON (Bahrain Team Pindar), gained from his westerly move yesterday, and cut about 20 miles from his deficit to the leader, lying 11th. After re-starting yesterday evening, the last skipper to do so before the line closes Wednesday, Jean Baptiste DEJEANTY had a steady first 12 hours on the race course, posting 10 knot averages as he heads across the Bay of Biscay.
Click here for all the news on the Vendée Globe.