Neptune decided to throw in some wild cards in the Vendee Globe last night, as the leaders entered a zone of virtually random conditions with squalls, calms, grey skies, lower temperatures and variable south-easterly winds averaging just 10 knots. The high pressure area is now being felt, with sudden wind shifts of more than 40 degrees in the small hours of this morning.

Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe

Loick Peyron (Gitana 80) and Armel l’Cleac’h (Brit Air) were able to carry on a straight course for the south-south-east, moving Peyron back up to the lead in this morning’s rankings — these two can no doubt see each other, as they are just seven miles apart. Similarly Vincent Riou (PRB), Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) and Yann Eliès (Generali), are practically next to each other at this extraordinary point in the race.

Yesterday evening Sebastien Josse (BT) had wrestled the lead from Peyron. He is now showing in second place, just 1.2 miles behind Peyron, but by being on the east of the front runners Josse has managed to stay on port tack as the wind shifted more southerly. He is currently heading south-south-west with relative speed in these light conditions — a radical move which may yet pay off as BT is also the most southernmost boat.

The biggest effects of the southerly shift were felt to the west of the course, where Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2, 7th) and Mike Golding (Ecover, GBR, 9th) were forced to tack during the night, losing ground as they headed on an easterly course on starboard. They will now be experiencing similar conditions to the leading bunch, as the fleet converges yet further.

Jean le Cam (VM Matériaux), out on the east of this group, has moved up to fourth place this morning as the leading pack sail towards his line.

As the leaders slow, the chasing bunch of Marc Guillemot (Safran), Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar, GBR) and Dominque Wavre (Temenos, SUI) have kept the pace on, with Temenos currently the fastest boat on the course. Thompson for instance is 55 miles closer to the leader than he was yesterday morning. Meanwhile in 22nd place Bernard Stamm (Cheminées-Poujoulat) is doing his best to eat up the miles, covering the greatest distance in the past 24 hours.

Last night Derek Hatfield (Algimouss Spirit of Canada) became the 24th skipper to cross the Equator, with just Jean-Baptiste Dejeanty remaining in the northern hemisphere.

Vendée Globe Top 15 Rankings

Updated November 28, 2008

  1. Loick Peyron, Gitana Eighty
  2. Sébastien Josse – BT
  3. Armel Le Cléac´h – Brit Air
  4. Jean-Pierre Dick, Paprec Virbac 2
  5. Roland Jourdain – Veolia Environnement
  6. Vincent Riou, PRB
  7. Jean Le Cam – VM Matériaux
  8. Yann Eliès – Generali
  9. Mike Golding, Ecover 3
  10. Marc Guillemont – Safran
  11. Brian ThompsonPindar
  12. Dominique Wavre – Temenos
  13. Samantha DaviesRoxy
  14. Michel DesjoyeauxFoncia
  15. Dee CaffariAviva

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