Over the past 24 hours, Maître CoQ has only covered 96 miles, because for long periods yesterday, he was completely stopped. This morning a light easterly breeze is allowing him to advance at eight knots. He has between twelve and eighteen hours of sailing left before reaching Les Sables d’Olonne. The wind may strengthen slightly to the south of Belle-Ile to allow him to accelerate, which explains why it is hard to predict his time of arrival. At the moment, he is 40 miles SW of the Glénan Islands, his regular training ground.
Fortunately for him, he has a big enough lead not to feel threatened (more than 630 miles). He is set to become the fourth sailor to complete the race in less than eighty days after Armel Le Cléac’h, Alex Thomson and François Gabart back in 2012. Behind him, the speeds are much higher for the three boats in fourth to sixth place. In a 20-25 knot SW’ly, Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac) is averaging over 23 knots, sailing 446 miles over the past 24 hours. The other two racing aginst him, Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) and Jean Le Cam (Finistère Mer Vent), are not quite as fast and are further south. Jean-Pierre has regained ground from Yann, who has won back some ground from Jean. All three are expected on Wednesday afternoon. They may not finish within the eighty days as that clock will stop ticking at 1202hrs UTC on Wednesday, but there is still a tiny chance they will make it. In any case, the battle is raging, even if Jean-Pierre’s option seems to be paying off and Yann appears to be that little bit better placed than Jean.
Around 600 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, Louis Burton looks like he is heading for seventh place, unless there is a major upset, as Bureau Vallée is around a thousand miles ahead of the Hungarian Nandor Fa (Spirit of Hungary). Louis has around a week of sailing left and is expected to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne on 31st January or 1st February. Nandor Fa, eighth, is 470 miles from the Equator and is due back in the Northern Hemisphere tomorrow evening. The Doldrums are not looking very active for him. Close to the coast of Brazil, less than 200 miles from Rio, Eric Bellion (CommeUnSeulHomme) is struggling to make headway towards the north, but is still 200 miles ahead of the New Zealander, Conrad Colman (Foresight Natural Energy). Arnaud Boissières and Fabrice Amedeo, 600 miles further back and further east are in with a chance of catching them. During the night, La Mie Câline overtook Newrest-Matmut to move into eleventh place, but the group of four in this zone (Boissières, Amedeo, Wilson et Roura) still have to get away from the claws of the St.Helena high. The steady trade winds are still a thousand miles north of them. To the north of the Falklands, Didac Costa (One Planet One Ocean) has extended his lead over Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys), after the latter had to deal with very light winds early in the night. Costa is 130 miles ahead of Attanasio this morning. Dutch sailor, Pieter Heerema (No Way Back) is 440 miles from Cape Horn, while Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-FaceOcean) in 18th place still has 1500 miles to sail to round the tip of South America.