Seasoned French offshore racer Philippe Péché has increased his lead over the rest of the fleet as he heads towards the first gate in the Canary Islands

Philippe Péché now has a 45 mile lead over the rest of the Golden Globe Race fleet, as he heads towards the first gate – a buoy off Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote.

But, there is still a long way to go for the 16 skippers left in the 30,000 mile race to circumnavigate the world non-stop, solo and unassisted.

Péché, who has made it clear from the start that he is looking to win this event, was the first to cross the start line in Les Sables d’Olonne on 1 July.

Like the rest of the fleet, he was frustrated by the initial light winds. But over the weekend, he enjoyed a fast run down the Portuguese coast, making the most of the NNE wind-stream, despite HF radio problems.

His current course is likely to carry PRB straight into an area of light airs blocking the fleet en-route to the Canaries.

Péché has twice won the Jules Verne Trophy with Bruno Peyron. Credit: Yvan Zedda/GGR/PPL

Péché is being hotly pursued by fellow Frenchman, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in his Rustler 36, Matmut

Other skippers are taking a more traditional westerly route, with Dutchman Mark Slats (Rustler 36, Ohpen Maverick) and Estonian Uku Randmaa (Rustler 36, One and All) 150 miles offshore.

Britain’s Susie Goodall (DHL Starlight) who has moved up from 9th to 5th over the weekend and is now level pegging with Norwegian Are Wiig (OE 32, Olleanna), and Australian Mark Sinclair (Lello 34, Coconut) who has recovered from last place to now stand 13th overall.

But, Goodall, like many of the skippers, is struggling with low cloud clover, which is restricting their ability to get a sun sight.

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‘I’m worried about finding the Canaries,’ she told Race HQ during one of the daily texts to the organisers.

Meanwhile Frenchman Antoine Cousot sailing the Biscay 36, Métier Intérim, and his US/Hungarian rival Istvan Kopar (Tradewind 35 Puffin) are experiencing continued problems with their wind vane self steering systems – essential gear when they reach the Southern ocean – and for the moment are spending long hours steering by hand.

Cousot has indicated that he intends to pull in at Lanzarote to make repairs but not yet declared whether he intends to gain outside assistance.

Entrants are allowed to seek shelter to make repairs at any time without effecting their solo non-stop status, but face being relegated to the Chichester Class if they enter port or seek assistance.

Golden Globe Race skipper Ertan Beskardes

Ertan Beskardes has pulled out of the race. Credit: Ertan Beskardes/GGR/PPL

The fleet was originally 17 strong when they left on 1 July. It has now fallen to 16, following the decision by British entrant, Ertan Beskardes to withdraw from the race for personal reasons.

The Bournmouth-based sailor, who has also experienced HF problems, has now stopped at La Corunna, where he has been joined by his wife.

He told Yachting Monthly that the isolation, and not being able to share his daily life with his family made the race difficult.

‘Soon after start, I stopped enjoying my days and my adventure due to isolation which I felt (was a) price I did not want pay; it was a cruise not a race for me,’ he said.

He said he is proud to have got so far and preparing for the Golden Globe Race was ‘7 months of fun and discovery’.

Beskardes praised the race organisers.

A chart showing the route of the Golden Globe Race 2018

The fastest skippers are expected to finish within 250 days

‘I recommend anyone who can, to have go at events such as this as it will only enrich themselves and their families during its process. I have met so many wonderful people during this journey in 5 different countries.;

‘Don McIntyre is truly special man to recreate this event for love of adventure certainly not for the money. He has enriched so many though not financially including himself,’ he added.

Meanwhile, Italian skipper, Francesco Cappelletti, whose late preparations delayed his departure with the rest of the fleet on 1 July, has announced his withdrawal from the race, having failed to meet the start deadline of 13:30 on 7 July.

The Golden Globe Race rules allow for one breach of the strict solo, non-stop un-assisted circumnavigation without the aid of modern electronic navigation aids regulations that make this race unique.

Those that do, move down to the Chichester Class as if, like Sir Francis Chichester in 1966/7, they have made one stop during their solo circumnavigation.

Italian Golden Globe skipper, Francesco Cappelletti

Francesco Cappelletti, the 40-year old professional sailor from Pisa, has withdrawn from the GGR

Those who breach the rules for a second time are deemed to have retired from the Golden Globe Race event and the organisers have no responsibility or obligation to them.

They will, however, continue to be tracked as independent CAROZZO sailors.

This is in deference to Alex Carozzo, the Italian entrant in the original Sunday Times Golden Globe Race who left Cowes on 31st October 1968 (the last day allowed within the Rules) and then sat in isolation on a mooring for a further five days finalising preparations on his boat before setting sail. Alex later suffered an ulcer and was forced to stop in Lisbon to seek medical attention.

Cappelletti has elected to continue this round the globe adventure as an independent Carozzo sailor, and no longer constrained by the GGR Rules, can carry modern navigation aids including GPS and satellite phone. His positions will also be maintained on the GGR tracker and the GGR organisers may give occasional reports.

‘This is the best solution for me,’ said Cappelletti.. ‘I am very pleased to continue in the tradition of the Golden Globe Race and stay in radio contact with the other skippers.’