Burton edges past Dalin to lead Vendee Globe into doldrums

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Paris (AFP)

Louis Burton (Bureau Vallee 2) edged past Charlie Dalin (Apivia) Saturday to take the lead heading into the doldrums in the epic solo around-the-world Vendee Globe yachting race.

Burton is just 3.1 nautical miles ahead of his closest rival, with German Boris Herrmann in third behind the two Frenchmen, at 43.6nm.

With less than 3,400nm to the finish of the 24,000-mile course at the French port of Sables d'Olonne -- which will take an estimated two more weeks -- Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) is in fourth spot (+93.1nm), with Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) in fifth (120.4nm).

"The trade winds have come in and last night we finally had a more stable (environment) and things are going well, no more squalls, and things are a bit easier!" said Burton.

"The Brazilian coast is behind us and we have turned a 'corner' and in less than 24 hours, we'll be at the entrance to the doldrums."

Burton said the doldrums were an area "where everything can change very fast in a few hours".

"The important thing is the exit to attack the North Atlantic! I think that my passage will be more to the West, but nothing is totally defined yet," he added.

Burton said the current pleasant conditions meant it was the moment to rest up and also "fix the little things that remain to be done before the final sprint".

"Whilst the sailing conditions are comfortable and things are going well, I do spend a lot of time on the weather forecasts to work out where is best to cross the doldrums.

"Given the small gaps between the boats, it is the chance of coming out either in front or behind depending on how it goes! The leading peloton is stretching out at the moment, but we'll have to see how it pans out."

Dealing with breaking equipment along the physical course has become a Vendee Globe staple for racers.

Eight of the 33 starters have already pulled out, most recently Sebastien Destremau, the skipper of the last-placed IMOCA Merci.

Destremau has had a succession of problems since he was in the North Atlantic, most recently in the Indian Ocean with his autopilots and his steering system which he had to effectively rebuild.

He is currently 60nm from Dunedin in New Zealand, nearly 7,500nm behind the leader, and almost 2,000nm behind 25th-placed Finnish skipper Ari Huusela (Stark).

Leading race standings as of 1700GMT, January 16

1. Louis Burton (FRA/Bureau Vallee 2) 3,316.1 nautical miles from finish, 2. Charlie Dalin (FRA/Apivia) at 3.1, 3. Boris Herrmann (GER/Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 43.6, 4. Thomas Ruyant (FRA/LinkedOut) 93.1, 5. Damien Seguin (FRA/Groupe Apicil) 120.4, 6. Yannick Bestaven (FRA/Maître Coq IV) 127.4, 7. Giancarlo Pedote (ITA/Prysmian Group) 206.5, 8. Benjamin Dutreux (FRA/OMIA-Water Family) 256.1, 9. Jean Le Cam (FRA/Yes we Cam !) 278.6, 10. Maxime Sorel (FRA/V And B Mayenne) 633.7