French skippers Charlie Dalin and Louis Burton emerged from the doldrums on Monday and began the final sprint to the line in the solo round-the-world Vendee Globe.
Dalin, on Apivia, led Burton's Bureau Vallee 2, by 59 nautical miles at 1700 GMT Monday although the latter, on a more westerly path, had the better wind and was clocking four knots faster.
Both skippers came away relatively lightly from the doldrums, a tricky area around the Equator which has little wind, where sailors can get stuck for days.
"I just went in a straight line and it worked well, I was lucky and it seemed to work this time," Burton told the race organisers.
"It's very good for Charlie and me. We were not as badly affected as the rest of the fleet.
"We are a little more ahead of our rivals than when we got into the doldrums."
The course, however, is not a simple chase to the line as the two rivals will hit a depression on Tuesday, meaning bad weather and high seas, and will then face a ridge of high pressure before another depression.
"The strategic choice has already started," said Burton who intends to be "on the attack" as much as he can.
The leaders are now looking at another 10 days to complete the nearly 3,000nm back to Les Sables d'Olonne and finish a race that started from the French port on November 8.
The chasing pack was held back by the doldrums, which was stickier than expected, before hitting the North Atlantic and the run for home.
Damien Seguin in Groupe Apicil is 111nm behind Dalin in third, closely followed by Thomas Ruyant in LinkedOut.
Longtime leader Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Coq IV) was in fifth 124nm behind Dalin with German skipper Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco), who was up to third a couple of days ago, another 36nm further back.
"There are a lot of difficult things for me at the moment," said Bestaven on Monday.
"Since Cape Horn, I have had a lot of technical problems with the boat. I'll say it today, I thought I could hide it a bit.
"During the passage to Cape Horn, I had a big depression. I hit a huge wave which swept the entire foredeck of the boat.
"I no longer have a balcony, no more furling (for the mast), and I have some sails that I can no longer use."
Of the 33 yachts that began the race, eight have already retired.
Leading race standings as of 1700 GMT, January 18
1. Charlie Dalin (FRA/Apivia) 2839.8 nautical miles from finish, 2. Louis Burton (FRA/Bureau Vallee 2) at 59.9, 3. Damien Seguin (FRA/Groupe Apicil) 111.6, 4. Thomas Ruyant (FRA/LinkedOut) 118.6, 5. Yannick Bestaven (FRA/Maitre Coq IV) 124.1, 6.Boris Herrmann (GER/Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 160.3, 7. Giancarlo Pedote (ITA/Prysmian Group) 163.1, 8. Benjamin Dutreux (FRA/OMIA-Water Family) 179.1, 9. Jean Le Cam (FRA/Yes we Cam !) 265.8, 10. Maxime Sorel (FRA/V And B Mayenne) 504.1