As leader Michel Desjoyeaux sails off the coast of Portugal, he is expected to cross the finish line victorious on Sunday. Second-placed Roland Jourdain (pictured) has a keel problem and doesn't know if he'll make the end of the race.
AFP - Vendee Globe leader Michel Desjoyeaux was on Thursday less than 1,000 nautical miles from the finish and on target for a record time in the gruelling solo round-the-world yachting race.
The French skipper's vessel Foncia crossed the symbolic 1,000 mile marker just before 1000GMT.
Barring any unforseen accidents the winner of the 2001 edition is expected back at the French port of Les Sables d'Olonne between 1500GMT on Saturday and 1800 on Sunday.
That would leave him with a total time at sea of between 83 and 84 days since setting out with the rest of the Vendee Globe flotilla on November 9.
The previous best time of 87 days, 10 hours and 47 minutes was established by Vincent Riou in 2005.
Desjoyeaux, sailing off the coast of Portugal, predicted: "It's certain not to be Saturday, but early Sunday is a possibility."
He reported that he had spent a fretful night.
"We were warned that in this region it's the period when whales are reproducing and they're pretty on edge.
"On top of that we'd been told to be careful of some containers that had fallen into the water three days ago off the coast of Spain.
"We had to work out their path and cross our fingers."
Desjoyeaux enjoys a commanding 800 mile lead on second-placed Roland Jourdain's Veolia Environnement with Armel Le Cléac'h at the helm of Brit Air in third.
But late Thursday, Jourdain was reported to be in trouble after his craft suffered a damaged keel.
The leading non-French skipper is British yachtswoman Samantha Davies who has moved up a place into fourth in what has been one of the toughest Vendee Globes ever staged with only 12 of the 30 original boats still in the race.
Riou had to drop out of this year's renewal when his PBR boat lost its mast but organisers are to award him equal third as the damage was sustained during his rescue of stricken rival Jean Le Cam off Cape Horn.
Vendee Globe standings at 20h00/19h00 GMT:
1. Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA/Foncia) at 855.4 nautical miles from finish
2. Roland Jourdain (FRA/Veolia Environnement) 888.5 miles behind leader
3. Armel Le Cléac'h (FRA/Brit Air) 1,264.0
4. Samantha Davies (GBR/Roxy) 2,342.2
5. Marc Guillemot (FRA/Safran) 2,452.8
Date created : 2009-01-30