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Vendee Globe - Grey. Light grey. Dark grey. Every shade imaginable

Grey, every shade of grey imaginable . . . Thomson (Hugo Boss) has still not made it out of the low-pressure system.Grey, every shade of grey imaginable -

Outside it is so horrible that the sailors take refuge in their cavern like Neanderthal man.

There is still some breeze to push the leaders towards Tierra del Fuego, but the Pacific swell isn’t really doing its job.

Britain’s Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) has still not made it out of the low-pressure system, forcing him to sail upwind.

While the leader, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire VIII) is riding the back of a low, which should carry him to Cape Horn, just over 2000 miles away.

The gap has widened considerably - over 400 nm - with Le Cléac’h sailing at 18 knots and Thomson back down to 6 knots.

The British sailor will not be able to do much about it until a front on its way down from the north reaches him.

There seems to be no solution to get back up there and threaten Le Cléac’h before Cape Horn, which Armel Le Cléac’h is expected to round on Thursday (22 Dec).

He can then look forward to accelerating away with a low spiraling around Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula in the middle of next week.

Alex Thomson will be running into a high-pressure area this week-end and Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) and Paul Meilhat (SMA) will narrow the gap on him, possibly down to a few hundred miles.

Meanwhile Jean-Pierre Dick (StMichel-Virbac) is speeding down from the NW and may well overtake Yann Eliès (Quéguiner-Leucémie Espoir) as they pass Campbell Island.

While Jean Le Cam (Finistère Mer Vent) is already thirty miles behind Jean-Pierre Dick in terms of distance to the finish.

LEADING POSITIONS at 18:00 hrs UTC Saturday:

1. Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire VIII - DTG 9,161 nm - sailing at 17 knots
2. Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss - DTL 443 nm - sailing at 6 knots
3. Jeremie Beyou on Maitre Coq - DTL 1267 nm
4. Paul Meilhat on SMA - DTL 1274 nm
5. Yann Elies on Quigunnier - DTL 2064 nm
6. Jean-Pierre Dick on StMichel-Virbac - DTL 2100 nm
7. Jean Le Cam on Finistere Mer Vent - DTL 2149 nm
8. Thomas Ruyant on Le Souffle du Nord - DTL 2940 nm

Fleet spread is now 6,673 nm back to Sebastien Destremau in 22nd.

Seven have now retired from the race.

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