Leg 6, Day 19: A race within a race

On their 19th day at sea in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, as the fleet prepare for the final assault into Auckland, Dongfeng Race Team are still toe-to-toe with MAPFRE, and hoping to make up lost ground on the rest of the fleet.

Yes, the latest position report at 0700 UTC may show the Chinese boat has lost more miles in relation to the leading trio, Team Akzo Nobel, Scallywag and Turn The Tide on Plastic, who are sailing fast towards the finish, but recent weather models are suggesting a compression could be ahead as the fleet round the Northern Cape of the North Island.

It may not be enough to panic the frontrunners just yet but either way, Scallywag seem to have chosen a good moment to go into stealth mode, keeping the fleet and the fans on their toes and hoping to secure a consecutive leg win.

For Dongfeng Race Team, it is all about the match race between them and MAPFRE, and the firm objective right now is to beat the Spanish team across the finish line into Auckland. The two teams have been stuck side by side for the entirety of this leg and the sailors on board Dongfeng will be doing everything they can to close the gap, both on the race course and in the overall leaderboard.

Meanwhile, Brunel have since changed their line of attack in the east and sailed a more southerly course to converge with Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE. The two red boats are hoping to sail around the outside of Brunel and drop into place just in front and it looks like they might just do it.

Even in the height of racing, the crew on board Dongfeng haven’t forgotten the important stuff as they took the time to wish Carolijn’s son, Kyle, a happy seventh birthday in a recent tweet. Everyone on board will be looking forward to being reunited with family members and stepping foot on dry land again in a few days time. As Martin Keruzore writes in his latest blog, it is a long leg with over 51 watches on deck so far, equating to more than 204 hours focussed on the boats performance. We don’t even want to think about the amount of freeze-dried food that the crew members have consumed…

There is still potential for a slow arrival into Auckland but that certainly won’t make it any less interesting. With the current weather models and analysis from the Race Experts, it looks like this leg is going to have us on the edge of our seats, and the navigators glued to theirs screens, all the way to the finish.

Latest position report at 0700 UTC:

1. Team AkzoNobel. DTF: 632nm
2. Turn the Tide on Plastic. DTL: 20.3nm
3. MAPFRE. DTL: 74.7nm
4. Team Brunel. DTL: 81.3nm
5. Dongfeng Race Team. DTL: 82.5nm
Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag - Stealth Mode
Vestas 11th Hour Racing - DNS