Vendee Globe leader Yannick Bestaven rounded Cape Horn on Saturday afternoon and can turn for home in the round-the- world race.
"Cape Horn, yeah!" yelled Bestaven, punching the air in a video from his boat. "I can put the left-turn indicator on. I'm going home."
At 1700 GMT, Bestaven, in Maitre Coq IV was 158.8 (294.4km) nautical miles ahead of his closest pursuer Charlie Dalin at the helm of Apivia.
Bestaven passed the cape in the early afternoon while Dalin was on course to reach it during the night.
It took Bestaven 55 days to reach the southern tip of the American continent, well behind the record of 47 days set by Armel Le Cleac'h four years ago.
With the wind growing stronger and the sea very rough, Bestaven and Dalin are heading further south than expected, in the middle of the Drake Strait, about 80 miles (130 km) south of the tip of the land.
"I didn't see it, but I've passed the longitude," said Betsaven, a 48-year-old marine engineer. "This is the exit of the South Ocean."
"I'm in rough seas with 45 knots of wind and eight metres of waves, the real Cape Horn, it's perfect," he said.
Bestaven has pulled away from his pursuers in the high winds in the last 36 hours but conditions are forecast to become milder. The sea should calm down and the winds ease.
There is a gap between Dalin and Thomas Ruyant in third in LinkedOut but then comes a closely-bunched armada of pursuers.
Sebastien Destremau in Merci, a distant last among the 27 surviving boats, said on Saturday morning that he still had not been able to resolve electronic problems.
"Merci has no tiller system AND no autopilot," he posted on the race site. "Under these conditions, I'm not going to be able to continue the Vendee Globe and I'll have to think about giving up."
"Happy new year anyway!"
Leading race standings as of 1700 GMT, January 2
1. Yannick Bestaven (FRA/Maitre Coq IV) 7,032.95 nautical miles from finish, 2. Charlie Dalin (FRA/Apivia) at 158.8nm, 3. Thomas Ruyant (FRA/LinkedOut) 463.68, 4. Damien Seguin (FRA/Groupe Apicil) 511.99, 5. Benjamin Dutreux (FRA/OMIA-Water Family) 648.85, 6. Jean Le Cam (FRA/Yes we Cam!) 688.67, 7. Boris Herrmann (GER/Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) 698.67739.53, 8. Isabelle Joschke (GER/MACSF) 712.07, 9. Louis Burton (FRA/Bureau Vallee 2) 712.79, 10. Maxime Sorel (FRA/V And B Mayenne) 739.53.