‘It’s starting to become a nightmare’ for Pasquale de Gregorio and his boat Wind Telecommunicazioni - he’s still struggling with light airs as the Vendée becomes a battle of will for the last man on the track

It seems months ago that Michel Desjoyeaux pipped Ellie Mac to the post, both demolishing Christophe Augin’s 105 day record with 93 and 94 days respectively. In five days’ time, it will be just that – two months – but for one man, the Vendée is very far from a distant memory, it is a bizarre and cruel reality.

At 0500 this morning, Italy’s Pasquale de Gregorio was about 400nm due south of the Canary Islands and 500nm west of the Cape Verdes, making three knots north in the middle of a high pressure system, 1,410nm from Les Sables d’Olonne. It’s beginning to hurt.

“Today has not been the finest day,” admits the 58-year-old (at least he was when he left), “battling with light airs, or whatever was left of them. It’s starting to become a nightmare, this choice of trying to cross the high pressure to place me north. It has caused me to slow down further because of the light winds I have found or the north-northwest heading I am forced to keep.

“For example now, the wind, after a momentary reinforcement, has died again at 4-5kn, and obviously, always from the northeast, the same northeast with which I have been battling for more than 4,000 miles!” One can almost see the tears fall on the keyboard as he contemplates his 147th day at sea.

Unable to control events; rationed, unpleasant food; disrupted and deprived sleep; it reads like a special forces interrogation manual. That he remains both sane and competitive in the face of such frustration is a credit to the spirit of this man and his ironically-named boat.