AFP - The Vendee Globe entered its fourth week Monday with Sebastien Josse's BT in command of the solo round the world yacht race from fellow French skipper Loick Peyron.
The 33-year-old Nice-born Josse, who overhauled long-time leader Peyron last Thursday, is taking part in his second Vendee, finishing fifth on his first attempt in 2005.
As the current fleet tackled 'the Roaring Forties' heading east towards the Cape of Good Hope Josse had a 43.2 nautical mile advantage over Peyron's Gitana Eighty with 19,000 miles to go.
Third was Yann Elies over 60 miles back as the front runners congested with under 80 miles covering the top seven boats in the latest standings released at 1500GMT.
British skipper Mike Golding, the only non-French competitor in the top ten and noted for his pace in the southern ocean, is lying eighth, 94.7 miles off Josse.
Some 600 miles behind Golding in 18th position on day 21 of sailing's toughest challenge was his fellow Briton Jonny Malbon for whom the weather conditions were giving him a nasty reminder of home.
"It feels like I have been in one massive squall for the last 24 hours - 20-28 knots of wind, thick cloud, and horizontal rain. Sounds just like England!" he said.
The 30-boat flotilla left the western French port of Les Sables d'Olonne on November 9, making its way down through the Doldrums before turning east into the Southern Ocean.
Five boats have pulled out - Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), Kito de Pavant (Groupe Bel), Marc Tjhiercelin (DCNS0), Yannick Bestaven (Paprec-Virbac) and Jeremie Beyou (Delta Dore).
On Sunday Frenchman Raphael Dinelli (Fondation Ocean Vital) diverted off course to try and find shelter to repair mast damage.
Standings at 1500GMT
1. Sebastien Josse (FRA) BT at 19,908.9 miles from the finish, 2. Loick Peyron (FRA) Gitana-Eighty at 43.2 miles from the leader, 3. Yann Elies (FRA) Generali 60.7, 4. Roland Jourdain (FRA) Veolia Environnement 70.6, 5. Vincent Riou (FRA) PRB 73.1, 6. Armel Le Cleac'h (FRA) Brit Air 75.4, 7. Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) Paprec-Virbac 77.7, 8. Mike Golding (GBR) Ecover 94.7, 9. Jean Le Cam (FRA) VM-Materiaux 125.6, 10. Marc Guillemot (FRA) Safran 184.5