Leg 6: Day 2: It’s advantage Team Brunel but Dongfeng leads the chasing pack

It has been a baptism of fire in the first 24 hours of Leg 6 as the fleet has pounded upwind from Hong Kong out towards Taiwan in up to 30 knots of breeze on port tack.

Early on their second day at sea, the fleet is now just 25 miles from the southwestern tip of Taiwan in a quiet patch in the breeze with Bouwe Bekking’s crew on Team Brunel having established a three-mile lead over Dongfeng in second place, closely followed by MAPFRE and SHK/Scallywag.

It has been a fascinating speed test between Bekking’s crew and Charles Caudrelier and the team on Dongfeng. Going upwind, getting the “modeing” right in a one-design is critical. Among the variables to think of are headsail selection, daggerboard position, ballast tank balance and helming technique – do we sail high or put the bow down a touch?

Another thing to watch out for is debris fouling the keel or rudders which can make all the difference over a few hours in a straight line speed test when the boats are within sight of each other. Both Team Brunel and last-placed Turn the Tide on Plastic (+9.5) have reported plastic bags on their keels so far.

Although the direct route to Auckland suggests turning right after Taiwan, we can expect the boats to start heading more to the north as they continue on their eastward journey with the breeze set to ramp up once again as they leave the northern edge of the Luzon Strait behind.

On Dongfeng the team has been decked out in full wet weather gear with visors to protect them from the spray coming off the bow. The crew has been working hard under grey skies as they beat into the northeast monsoon, passing the occasional cargo ship on the way but watching their rivals like hawks.

Latest position report at 0700 UTC:

1. Team Brunel. DTF: 5,121.3nm
2. Dongfeng Race Team. DTL: 3.0nm
3. MAPFRE. DTL: 3.5nm
4. Team Sun Hun Kai / Scallywag. DTL: 4.0nm
5. Team AkzoNobel. DTL: 5.5nm
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic. DTL: 9.9nm
7. Vestas 11th Hour Racing. DNS