Sam, Steve, Dee and Brian reporting in

Michel Desjoyeaux’s (Foncia) lead has stabilised now as he starts to meet the first lines of resistance from the active Doldrums, but with just under 500 miles of a cushion he will not be too worried. In second place Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) has been quicker than Mich Desj overnight, but has regained only a tiny five miles.

Steve White,(see photo) sailing Toe in the Water and ninth placed, is making 12-13kts towards Cape Horn and was 180 miles due west of it at 0400hrs this morning.
Dee Caffari, (Aviva) was quickest overnight and shares the best distance run for the last 24h with Marc Guillemot (Safran).

Dee reports: “A beautiful night with clear skies, stars and a moon gave some good sailing. Fortunately the wind has been consistent and is allowing us some direct sailing, making good ground north. A sign of being back in the Atlantic was seeing two large offshore fishing trawlers last night. I have not seen another vessel since heading south in the Atlantic apart from Pindar and Akena, so it was quite exciting.’

‘Sunday was a day of rest. I had a lie in, then a hearty breakfast and have been chilling out in a horizontal position for most of the day. Aviva has done her best at looking after me. She has been sailing well and fast and we have enjoyed the afternoon blue skies with a cup of tea.”
Even if Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) has been slowed a little now on his dash towards les Sables d’Olonne, there is still a huge gap back to his second placed friend from Port-la-Forêt, Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement), who in turn has been extending his lead over Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air). 

Sam Davies says she has beaten her record for going slowly, while Marc Guillemot (Safran) behind her is moving along at more than 16 knots.
Crossing the Equator, while representing an important landmark in the mind, will also signal one of the final hurdles before the finish in Vendée.  It is indeed the vagaries of the Doldrums rather than the decreasing degrees of latitude, which are already interesting the solo sailors, as they make their way north.  Usually positioned at 5 or 6 degrees north, at the moment they appear to stretch out into the Southern Hemisphere and also appear to be unusually active at the longitudes towards which the fleet is heading. 

The gaps that have developed should ensure that a major hold-up in the Doldrums will have little net effect on positions, it is perhaps more a question of worrying about the violent squalls and their possible consequences.
Steve White, GBR, (Toe in the Water) is making good speed towards Cape Horn and should join the ranks of the Cape Horners’ this evening. Steve has managed to deal with the problem with his mainsail headboard car. The car, he said today, had basically exploded and his mainsail had been left to fall slowly. In effect he replaced the cars with other ones, but had to take all the track cars off, with all the balls falling out, before re-hoisting the main with the damaged cars still at the top of the mast.

“So that’s my things. Oh and the water-maker has been quietly poisoning me so I have had a bit of an upset stomach these past 36 hours as well.” reported Steve.

0400hrs HRS GMT. Rankings, Monday 19th January 2009
(FRA unless stated)
1 . Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) at 3376.9 miles to finish
2 . Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) at 494.6 miles from first place
3 . Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) at 1119.2 miles from first place
4 . Sam Davies (Roxy) at 1943.8 miles from first place
5 . Marc Guillemot (Safran) at 2100.7 miles from first place
6 . Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) at 2814.3 miles from first place
7 . Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) at 2873 miles from first place
8 . Dee Caffari (Aviva) at 2891.8 miles from first place
9 . Steve White (Toe in the water) at 3839.6 miles from first place
10 . Rich Wilson (Great American III) at 5278.2 miles from first place
11 . Raphaël Dinelli (Fondation Océan Vital) at 6971.5 miles from first place
12 . Norbert Sedlacek (Nauticsport . Kapsch) at 6976.4 miles from first place
RDG . Vincent Riou (PRB). 3rd equal. 30 boats started.