The tortoise and the hare race continues, with Dutchman Mark Slats closing to within 56 nm of long-time race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in terms of distance to finish.
Van Den Heede, whose Rustler 36 Matmut has led the Golden Globe Race since passing the Cape of Good Hope, at one stage held a 2,000 nm advantage.
But has seen his lead being whittled away ever since the 73-year-old Frenchman suffered a knock-down and sustained damage to his mast during a Southern Ocean storm in the South Pacific on 1 November 2018.
Van Den Heede still holds a weather advantage and once passed the influence of the Azores high pressure system, should be first to benefit from the reaching winds that will give him an easier passage north towards the Bay of Biscay.
But Slats is pushing hard despite a few problems of his own. The Dutchman ran out of fresh water supplies a week ago, and is now using his emergency desalinator to turn salt water into fresh.
It is hard work. An hour of pumping with both hands produces just 750ml of water – barely a cup full. The average daily intake is 2.5litres – 3 hours pumping!
Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Mark Slats are expected to finish in Les Sables d’Olonne sometime between 1 and 2 February.
Third placed Estonian skipper Uku Randmaa whose Rustler 36 One and All, has been beset by barnacle growth since crossing the Indian Ocean, is today caught in calms in the South Atlantic, some 3,000 nm behind the leading duo
Golden Globe Race Leaderboard – 15 Jan 12:00 – DTF – DS
1st Jean-Luc Van Den Heede FRA – 1683 NM, 26270 NM
2nd Mark Slats NED – 1739 NM, 26198 NM
3rd Uku Randmaa EST – 4797 NM, 22490 NM
4th Istvan Kopar USA – 5579 NM, 22081 NM
5th Tapio Lehtinen FIN – 8778 NM, 19277 NM