Le Cléac’h takes his turn at the front of the Vendee

Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) and Francois Gabart (MACIF) are trading blows with every ranking. Le Cléac’h landed one overnight – their day in the southern hemisphere - as they approached the Auckland Islands. Le Cléac’h is 2.5 miles ahead and just two miles northeast of Gabart. Both skippers have held the lead for just 15 hours before being unseated in the longer stretch of nine hours between ranking. Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire), was slightly faster at the 04:00hrs (UTC) ranking (averaging 19.3 knots to Gabart’s 17.8 knots over the last hour).Vendee Globe - Top Ten Rankings Thursday 20 December 2012, 09:00 hrs (UK)1. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Clac'h2. Macif, François Gabart, 3.4 nm to the leader3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick 528 nm4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 861 nm5. Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard Stamm, 898 nm6. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 1666 nm7. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 1798 nm8. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 1915 nm9. Acciona 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sansó, 1993 nm10. AKENA Vérandas, Arnaud Boissières, 2650 nm

After his successful trip up the mast, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3), was back up to speed and became the third boat into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, after crossing the 146°55' E longitude south of Tasmania.

Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) and Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), will follow him on today. Thomson extended his lead from 14 miles to 39 overnight, but both have slowed this morning and are losing miles to the leaders. Thomson was making 14 knots in the last hour and Stamm just 11.7.