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Vendee Globe - Thomson sets new benchmark time to Equator

British skipper Alex Thomson has continued to set the pace with a new reference time for the passage time from Les Sables d'Olonne to the Equator.

Thomson's new benchmark time is 9 days 7 hours 02 minutes, one day and four hours faster than the previous best time set in 2004 by Jean Le Cam.

Hugo Boss crossed 2 hours and 54 mins ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII), 3 hours and 22 mins ahead of Vincent Riou (PRB).

Four hours and 59 mins later, Sébastien Josse (Edmond de Rothschild) crossed and 5 hours and 47 minutes later than Hugo Boss it was Paul Meilhat (SMA).

Thomson has accelerated out of the doldrums, opening slowly opening the gap back to the chasing pack led by Armel Le Cleac'h and Vincent Riou.

The trio on top of the Vendee Globe solo round the world race are well into the SE'ly trade winds and Thomson's Hugo Boss appeared to be showing a slight speed advantage in the 15 kts reaching conditions.

As the leaders accelerate in the SE’ly trade winds in the Southern Hemisphere, several other skippers are reporting technical problems, which they are trying to resolve as best they can.

Jérémie Beyou on Maître CoQ is being held back by autopilot problems, while Conrad Colman on Foresight Natural Energy had to cut up his steps to deal with a leak in the hydraulic system.

Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) - Click image for a larger image

Jérémie Beyou: "Since entering the Doldrums, I have had a lot of problems with the autopilot. I had already had problems with my first two since the start in Les Sables d’Olonne, so I had to get through the Doldrums without an autopilot."

"I’m now on to my third, as the first two have a problem with the electronics… With the wind astern in 25 knots, it was a bit hairy as we kept bearing away. Fortunately there was no damage. I really have to find a solution.”

Conrad Colman: "I had some repairs to do yesterday with the hydraulic system which cants the keel. There was a leak around a screw. I had to cut through the steps in the companionway to tighten it. I don’t have any leak any more, but I don’t have any steps either.”

Tanguy De Lamotte is heading north, back to Les Sables d'Olonne, solo and unassisted and will not finish his second Vendee Globe.

LEADING POSITIONS at 05:00 hrs Thursday:

1. Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss - DTG 20955 nm - sailing at 20 knots
2. Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire VIII - DTL 55 nm
3. Sebastien Josse on Edmond de Rothchild - DTL 60 nm
4. Vincent Riou on PRB - DTL 76 nm
5. Paul Meilhat on SMA - DTL 108 nm
6. Morgan Lagraviere on Safran - DTL 145 nm
7. Jeremie Beyou on Maitre Coq - DTL 181 nm
8. Yann Elies on Quigunnier - DTL 290 nm
9. Jean Le Cam on Finistere Mer Vent - DTL 420 nm
10. Jean-ierre Dick on StMichel-Virbac - DTL 460 nm
11. Thomas Ruyant on Le Souffle du Nord - DTL 463 nm

Fleet spread is now 1640 nm back to Sebastien Destremau.

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