Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss continues to cut into the lead of Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire VIII - now down to 34 nm at 22:00 hrs Thursday.
Thomson is expected to slow later this evening. But predictions suggest he may get to as close to within 50 miles of his French rival.
Alex Thomson appears to have analysed this new situation.
He is moving away from the route taken by Le Cléac’h to head towards the NE hoping to get around the problem out at 35°W.
He hopes to make the most of what remains of a southern low heading off towards the Indian Ocean.
In a moderate westerly air stream, Hugo Boss can imagine getting to the same latitude as the leader but further east going from one cell to another.
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In third place Jérémie Beyou is passing the Falkland Islands, Jean Pierre Dick in fourth is losing ground to his pursuers Yann Eliès and Jean Le Cam.
Conrad Colman is emerging unscathed today from his close encounter with a fearsome depression.
And Enda O'Coineen is this morning 210 miles to Stewart island off the south of New Zealand where he plans a series of small repairs which should keep him in the race.
Sébastien Destremau (TechnoFirst-faceOcean) is also planning a pit stop. He is at the rear of the fleet with Pieter Heerema (No Way Back), who appears to have finally solved his autopilot problems.
As for Paul Meilhat (SMA), he has reached Tahiti and Stéphane Le Diraison (Compagnie du Lit-Boulogne Billancourt) is in the process of mooring up in Melbourne.
LEADING POSITIONS at 09:00 hrs UTC Thursday:
1. Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire VIII - DTG 5,112 nm - sailing at 11 knots
2. Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss - DTL 55 nm - sailing at 5 knots
3. Jeremie Beyou on Maitre Coq - DTL 1157 nm
4. Jean-Pierre Dick on StMichel-Virbac - DTL 1889 nm
5. Jean Le Cam on Finistere Mer Vent - DTL 2035 nm
6. Yann Elies on Quigunnier - DTL 2043 nm
7. Louis Burton on Bureau Vallee - DTL 3251 nm
Fleet spread is now 8,032 nm back to Pieter Heerama in 19th.
Ten have now retired from the race.
Gerald New - Sailweb
29 December 2016 9:18 GMT