Shortly after passing Cape Verde, the fight for victory at the Vendée Globe seems more open than ever. Just 124 miles separates the three-man leaders "PRB", "Bonduelle" and "Ecover", and in the last 24 hours the leading Vincent Riou has lost 50 and 61 miles respectively to his pursuers.
Without question, the Frenchman has been sailing a tactically brilliant race with his technically slightly inferior boat since the start. Due to his better assessment of the weather, he keeps getting a lead that Le Cam and Golding have to laboriously catch up with with their higher boat speed. They could achieve this to the goal if they keep catching up with such big strides, but Riou probably still has an ace up his sleeve: sailing the furthest to the west, he seems better positioned for the last long shot to the goal, because a pronounced one lurks in the east High pressure area with little wind.
An email from Mike Golding's "Ecover" on board caused a surprise last night. He had to go up the mast for the third time in just twelve days to exchange a torn major case and therefore lost valuable miles to his direct opponent Jean le Cam. "The case has always torn in different places, it seems as if the cordage in the Southern Ocean has simply been overstrained," said the Briton from the ship.
During the third attempt at repairs, he decided to completely swap the halyard for a replacement rope that had a breaking load of around 40 percent higher (12 tons).