Will the sail last the final big blow from the Southern Ocean?

British Vendee Globe skipper Dee Caffari, GBR (Aviva) has discovered further delamination to her mainsail and will have to nurse it to Cape Horn, 1,200 miles ahead.

“I went on deck. Dawn was just breaking so it was light enough to see everything. I was looking at my mainsail, which has been a concern for the whole of the Southern Ocean, and I noticed some more sail flapping in the breeze. My shoulders slumped and as I realised with horror that it wasn’t the layer that is blowing away daily but the layer on the good side of the mainsail. In fact, the only layer of mainsail left!

“I cursed, gybed quickly and dropped the mainsail to the third reef. I grabbed my sail repair kit, which is now running extremely low, and spent an hour patching the tear in the cloth. With the forecast set for the winds to increase and knowing that moving the sail up and down cannot be good for the cloth I have elected to remain at three reefs and keep my fingers crossed. If it can just get me to the Atlantic then I can choose a route with no scary wind and nurse my sail home.

“My biggest fear now is will the sail last the final big blow from the Southern Ocean depression before I turn left? So miles won and miles lost, the important thing for me is to stay in the race.”

At the front of the fleet Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnment) confirmed that he has completed the repair work to his mast support bulkhead and his keel box. Jourdain is 238.1 miles behind Desjoyeaux.

“I’m pleased about my night and this final piece of work using bunches of battens from the mainsail, which I stuck together to form a solid bar, and then stuck onto the bulkhead at the foot of the mast to consolidate everything. It should be as solid as concrete to ensure we get home. I’m going to try to clean up a bit, as there’s dust everywhere. It makes you itch all the time. It’s hell.”

The dismasted PRB was towed into Ushuaia yesterday evening (GMT) and was able to moor up. Jean le Cam, met up with his wife and they are due to fly back to France shortly. Vincent Riou will follow later in the week once a few of his team are ready to take over from him. The goal is to bring PRB back on a cargo ship as quickly as possibly.

Eleven years after being dismasted in the hostile waters of the South Pacific as a fresh faced 23-year-old youngster on Tracy Edwards’ maxi cat, Sam Davies today achieved one of her dreams, rounding Cape Horn.

Lying fourth in the Vendée Globe she rounded at 0920hrs GMT this morning, passing 62 days 21hrs and 18 minutes after the race start in Les Sables d’Olonne.

Eleven years ago Davies was part of Tracy Edwards all girl crew attempting to break the Jules Verne record. Seven days ago Davies passed the spot where the mast collapsed. Today she made it to Cape Horn as a mature, experienced and complete solo sailor, lying in fourth place in this remarkable race.

Racing the boat which has won the last two races, Davies’ time for the Southern Ocean – Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn, 34 days 15 hours 50 minutes compares very favourably with of Vincent Riou, winner on the same boat in 2004, who took 33 days 6 hours, 25 minutes in 2004, Davies course has been made over 1,100 miles longer by the ice gates, and she was diverted north to the aid of injured Yann Eliès.

“I can put it on my CV now. I’ve waited 11 years to round this rock and it’s great to be back in the Atlantic. I’m still enjoying myself. I’m a bit sad though to leave the Big South behind after such a great voyage in the Southern Ocean. I think Roxy is a great boat for these conditions, so I’m a bit sad it’s all over. I can’t wait to come back here in four years!”

1500 HRS GMT. Rankings, Sunday 11th January 2009
1. Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) at 5179.4 miles
2. Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) at 238.4 miles
3. Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) 722.4 miles
4. Sam Davies, GBR, (ROXY) at 1,774.1 miles
5. Marc Guillemot (Safran) at 2,116 miles

Other Brits
6. Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) at 2,862 miles
8. Dee Caffari, GBR, (AVIVA) at 3,048.1 miles
9. Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) at 4,221.4 miles