French skipper Philippe Péché was the first Golden Globe Race entrant to pass the mandatory gate at Lanzarote, closely followed by Mark Slats

A costly navigational error by the Golden Globe Race leader, Philippe Péché has allowed second placed Dutch skipper Mark Slats to close the gap as they both clear the first gate – a buoy at Rubicon Marina in Lanzarote.

The French offshore racer had built up a 3½ hour lead in his Rustler 36, PRB but mistaking the lighthouse marking the southern end of Lanzarote meant he had to turn back into the wind and beat the 7 miles back to Rubicon Marina.

Philippe Peche adjusts his sails aboard his Rustler 36

Philippe Péché’s navigation error has allowed Dutchman Mark Slats to gain on him. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

He was expected to round the mandatory turning mark at 0630 yesterday (12 July) but instead passed it at 10.30, having dropped off film and letters to the race organisers.

This time wasting closed the gap between himself and second placed Mark Slats and his Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick to little more than 9 miles.

Slats, who has installed an oar on his boat to give him the edge, was delighted with the situation.

‘I’m very happy and feeling strong. I rowed for 6 hours when the winds got very light around Cape Finisterre,’ said the 2017 winner of the Talisker Challenge singlehanded class.

Slat, who previously solo circumnavigated the world in a 46ft Alan Buchanan designed yacht Cornelia in 2004/5, also handed across his film from the first leg of the race.

Third placed Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, sailing the Rustler 36, Matmut was just 6 miles behind Slats.

The 73 year-old, who has five previous circumnavigations under his belt, said: ‘I’m very comfortable with my position. This is a long race, and to win,you first have to finish.’

Fourth placed Norwegian Are Wiig sailing his OE 32 Olleanna, one of the smallest in the fleet of 16 yachts, was 75 miles behind the leader holding a 20 mile lead on 5th place British sailor Susie Goodall in her Rustler 36 DHL Starlight.

Both of them rounded the mark during the early hours of the morning (13 July), while the remaining fleet are expected to follow later today and tomorrow.

The next compulsory turning gate is off Hobart, Tasmania.

GGR Leader board: 15:30 UTC 12.07.18

1. Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB 23 600 miles to the finish
2. Mark Slats (FRA) – Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick + 9 miles
3. Jean-Luc Van den Heede (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut + 15 miles
4. Are Wiig (NOR) OE32 Olleanna + 75 milles
5. Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight + 95 miles