Mike Golding now lying eighth

The leading Vendee Globe sailors are racing neck and neck as the first Southern Ocean storm builds. And Seb Josse (BT) and Yann Eliès (Generali) are racing cheek-to-cheek in 30-35 knots of wind with just five miles of lateral distance separating them, surfing at more than 20 knots.

Loick Peyron (Gitana Eighty) is up to third place again.

A chasing trio some 70 miles in the wake of Josse and Eliès are accelerating, with just 13 miles of lateral separation between them comprising Jean Le Cam, 6th, Vincent Riou 7th, and Mike Golding, GBR, 8th

As the Southern Ocean delivers the first big winds of this Vendee Globe, speeds at the front of the fleet climb proportionately. The leaders are well into 35-40 knots of wind and big rolling seas, anticipating forecast gusts of 45-50 knots tonight as the gales peak for about 10-12 hours.

Knowing how little distance separates the top 10 boats, the challenge is not just pressing hard when you can through the worst of the storm, setting the Open 60 up to deal with the big squalls and gusts, but also anticipating when the wind is building and when it is starting to drop away again.

Most are now predicting that this system will be relatively short and sharp.

Gonzalo Terceno, the Pakea Bizkaia project manager, informed the Race Directors that Unai Bazurko had a rudder problem. After hearing a loud noise, the Basque sailor saw that his starboard rudder cassette is damaged

The damage has forced him to change to a NE’ly course, towards the lighter winds of the St. Helena high pressure system, seeking relief from the strong winds. He will then be in a better position to evaluate the extent of the damage and consider the possibilities of carrying out repairs by himself.

This morning at 7h30 GMT/UTC, he was sailing at 37 degrees 28 south and 17 degrees 16 west. He was on a bearing of 73 degrees and proceeding under reduced sail averaging 2.6 knots. Pakea Bizkaia is currently right in the middle of the South Atlantic, more or less halfway between the coast of South America and Africa, 1730 miles from Cape Town.

1500 HRS GMT. Top Five Rankings, (all FRA)
1. Seb Josse (BT) at 18090.8 miles to finish
2. Yann Elies (Generali) 3.6 miles
3. Loick Peyron (Gitana Eighty) 28.5 miles
4. Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) 32.1 miles
5. Jean Le Cam (VM Materiaux) 44.1 miles

Selected International
8. Mike Golding, GBR, (ECOVER 3) at 73.3 miles
12.Dominique Wavre, SUI, (Temenos 2) at 258 miles
13. Brian Thompson, GBR, (Bahrain Team Pindar) at 445.3 miles
14. Sam Davies, GBR,(ROXY) at 552.8 miles
15. Dee Caffari, GBR, (AVIVA) at 662.9 miles
16. Bernard Stamm, SUI, (Cheminees Poujoulat) at 673.1 miles
18. Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) at 733.1 miles
19. Johnny Malbon, GBR, (Artemis) at 792.4 miles
20. Rich Wilson, USA, (Great America III) at 938.2 miles
21. Unai Basurko, ESP, (Pakea Bizkaia) at 1141 miles
23. Derek Hatfield, CAN, (Algimouss Spirit of Canada) at 1444.8miles
25. Norbert Sedlacek, AUT, (Nauticsport-Kapsch) 1603 miles