The race officer decided not to make the beautiful Brazilian island archipelago of Fernando de Noronha a mark of the course this time, but Pascal Bidegorry, the navigator on Dongfeng, chose a course that passed only 85 miles east of it as he hunted for the quickest route south.
This morning Dongfeng was cruising along at just under 16 knots of boatspeed in a stable east-southeasterly breeze with her top-four rivals strung out in line astern led by MAPFRE (+5.5), then Vestas 11th Hour Racing (14.8), Team Brunel (18.8) and Team AkzoNobel (26.5).
Caudrelier and his crew have gradually eased away from MAPFRE since the Equator in a weather situation that has favoured the leading boat. As she gets further south, Dongfeng is sailing into stronger breeze and will be the first to hook into the stronger north-easterly winds, rolling off the top of the St Helena high.
Caudrelier and his watch captains – Stu Bannatyne, Daryl Wislang and Jeremie Beyou – have been focusing on every small detail of sail trim and weight distribution to maximize their speed and ensure the gap to the Spanish team on MAPFRE keeps growing.
The next few days could see some fast sailing as the boats continue south before starting to turn their bows east towards Cape Town, the so-called Tavern of the Seas. Currently the ETA for the first boat to reach the finish line off South Africa is around November 24 or 25.