Paris (AFP)

British sailor Alex Thomson said Friday he was staying positive as he strives to chase down Vendee Globe race leader Armel Le Cléac'h.

"We're in the Doldrums (areas of the Atlantic and Pacific that have little or any wind) at the moment so it's quite difficult, certainly for me," Thomson, who placed third in the 2012-2013 edition, told AFP by telephone.

"The North Atlantic is quite complicated so there's an opportunity. There's certainly a possibility that I can beat him. I'm going to try hard."

Thomson, who failed to finish in 2004 and 2008, trailed Banque Populaire's Le Cleac'h in his Hugo Boss by 213.3 nautical miles mid-Friday afternoon.

But he has been slowly gaining on the race leader and had been outpacing his rival with the greatest distance covered over 24 hours to keep his morale afloat.

"At the moment I'm 200 miles away from him, obviously he's in control. I have to get close, maybe we can win, we have to see.

"I'm ready for the challenge and ready to work hard in the next few weeks.

"I always try to stay very positive. At the end of the day I'm living my dream. I get to do something that is amazing," said Thomson while conceding that being away from his family for months at a time was a stern test in itself.

Damage sustained to his vessel so far in the toughest endurance test in the sport has also taken a toll, hence "I find it incredible I'm so close to the leader when my boat is so damaged to one side. I have only one foil left.

Le Cleac'h had been 322 miles clear going into Friday and 340 Thursday evening -- but with some 3,300 miles to the finish he was seeing the dogged Thomson close the gap little by little.

The Frenchman was battling tough conditions around 100 miles from the Equator in the Doldrums low pressure zone where northeast and southeast trade winds converge.

Frenchman Jeremie Beyou (Maître Coq), was meanwhile hanging on in third some 1,000 miles off the pace.

Agence France-Presse

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