Bayer had in sewn up, then Foncia challenged, then Groupama, now Belgacom is in on the action - the four boats in contention are closing line abreast on the Straits of Gibraltar

As we surmised yesterday, the depression that lay between the leading four boats and Straits of Gibraltar had a safety car effect, slowing and compressing the fleet. Now, having passed through the fast-filling low, there’s just 60nm from first to fourth with Franck Cammas’ Groupama currently in the box seat.

Groupama’s foray to the north didn’t pay massively but then nothing has since the leaders rounded the Sao Miguel turning mark. Now they’re through the low, all four boats are piling on the sail and three of the lead bunch are each making 25kn, give or take a tenth.

Franck Cammas will be hoping to fill the space between second place and the finish for the rest of the race but with his lead as it stands – 40nm – he hasn’t the room to make that move just yet. Alain Gautier and Ellen MacArthur are pushing Foncia-Kingfisher to the limits in a bid to get back on terms but from their position to the south of the other three, they look favourite to enter the Med in fourth.

Yvan Bourgnon, skipper of Bayer, sounded almost relaxed when he rounded Sao Miguel in the lead. Since then, he’s dropped to third, back to first, then second and the night before last, he broke a daggerboard too.

“The good news is that the wind is back and we’re sailing fast towards Gibraltar. The bad news is that a 100 litres an hour is coming in though the daggerboard casing. Yvan Ravussin has found a temporarily fix, but he is not sure it will last. We’ll see when we’ll slow down,” said Bourgnon resignedly.

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