Over the last 24 hours they have experienced the worst that the Doldrums can offer as they have gone from a strong position among the leading three boats to hitting a nautical brick wall as they, along with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team AkzoNobel sailed into a cloud formation that stopped them dead.
Dongfeng was left wallowing in rain and shifting wind while the boats to leeward – MAPFRE, Turn The Tide on Plastic and Tea Brunel – sailed on by. Today – the 11th at sea since setting sail for Hong Kong from Melbourne – Dongfeng is officially last on the tracker, a yawning 29.2 miles behind the new leader Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (which has gone from last to first).
But the yacht with the double swallow motif on her sails sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation is in a good last position, if that is possible. Maybe it’s not going to be about the luck of the Chinese and the lucky east wind but simply that, once again, navigator Franck Cammas has kept Dongfeng on the windward side of the fleet.
That means she is furthest north of the seven-strong fleet and closest to the stronger and more stable northeast winds that will start to fill in and signal the beginning of the power-reach towards Hong Kong.
The Doldrums are not yet over but there is an end in sight and the chances are that Dongfeng could still exit this game of snakes and ladders in a reasonably good position, even if the numbers now make painful reading.
For the record, with 3,035 miles still to sail at a position 630 miles northeast of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea, Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag, which has made huge gains in the last 24 hours, is the current leader but she is 85 miles to leeward of Dongfeng. MAPFRE is second (+7.7), with Turn The Tide on Plastic third (+14.9). Then it’s Vestas (+16.8), Team Brunel (+19.6), Team AkzoNobel (+22.1) and finally Dongfeng (+29.2).
There’s a long way to go yet…