Leg 4, Day 9: Stillness and no speed – Dongfeng and her rivals still drifting

For those interested in oceanography, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is still trying to get across an area of the western Pacific Ocean called the Ontong Java Rise.

At the moment, in this area to the north of the Solomon Islands, the sea is like a mirror and the temperatures are suffocatingly hot. If this was inshore racing, the race officer would long ago have called it off and everyone would be in the bar.

But the Volvo Ocean Race is different and this torture by heat and no wind looks set to continue for at least another day – possibly more – as the crews battle to get north and into the fringes of the northeast trade winds.

The weather models show that by Saturday – yes, Saturday – they will all have decent breeze, in the 15-knot range, and that will hold all the way to the finish of the leg in Hong Kong.

Already skippers and navigators are thinking about their escape route and the key gear-shifting phase they will need to execute as they try to respond to the first signs of building wind. Everyone is aware that the first boat out could well be the first boat at the finish, even though that is still more than 3,200 miles away.

In the last 24 hours the distance covered towards Hong Kong has been less than 50 miles with the crews trying to tease out speed from small gusts here and there. Right now on their ninth day at sea, the wind has been suddenly building to up to 10 knots before it dies away to nothing again.

Dongfeng has been continuing to weave a path towards the windward side of the fleet and is currently lying in fifth place for leg, 7.4 nautical miles behind the leader, Turn the Tide on Plastic which remains the most leeward boat of the leading group.

Charles Caudrelier and his crew are in a four-way battle on the eastern edge with MAPFRE (+5.4), Team AkzoNobel (+6) and Vestas 11th Hour Racing (+9). Team Brunel is currently listed as in second place (+3.2), partly because it is the furthest west while, at the back, Sun Hung Kai Scallywag continues to make big gains and is now only 12.8 miles off the pace.

There are still about 250-300 miles of this stuff to go before Dongfeng will start to eat up the miles once more on the way to the Philippines and the Chinese coast.

Latest position report at 0700UTC:

1. Turn the Tide on Plastic. DTF: 3,257nm

2. Team Brunel. DTL: 2.4nm

3. Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag. DTL: 4,8nm

4. MAPFRE. DTL: 5.7nm

5. Team AkzoNobel. DTL: 6nm

6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing. DTL 7.5m

7. Dongfeng Race Team. DTL: 7.6nm