Leg 6, Day 5: Dongfeng flying towards Auckland

After several days of heading northeast, Dongfeng and her rivals at the front of the pack on Leg 6 are now sailing with their bows on course for the southern hemisphere, destination Auckland.

Early on day 5 the Chinese red and white Volvo Ocean 65, sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation, is hammering along at more than 20 knots of boatspeed in third place.

But the leading group is still a very tight bunch with MAPFRE just four miles ahead of Dongfeng in second place and leg leader Team Brunel less than a mile further on and a few miles away to windward.

Behind the leading trio the two boats that speared off to the north straight after Taiwan – Team AkzoNobel and SHK/Scallywag - have made big gains in the northerly breeze and have now cut their deficit to the leaders by half, to around 65 miles.

The boats are finally making way across the top of the lightwind patch to the south of them which has dominated strategy for the last few days and are heading towards the northeast tradewind belt that will take them down to the Doldrums.

But the weather pattern is nothing if not complicated and the skippers and navigators will be watching their rivals like hawks through the upcoming transitions.

On Dongfeng the crew is working around the clock with recent film from on board focusing on bowman Kevin Escoffier coming up on deck to help out in his off-watch as they peel headsails and swap sheets with Escoffier out on the out-rigger before retiring to his bunk.

After four full days at sea Dongfeng is now nearly 850 miles due east of Taiwan and has reduced her “distance to go” to the finish line by just over 1,000 miles with the figure now standing at around 4,280.

Latest position report at 0700 UTC:

1. Team Brunel. DTF: 4, 281.7nm
2. MAPFRE. DTL: 0.8nm
3. Dongfeng Race Team. DTL: 4.6nm
4. Turn the Tide on Plastic. DTL: 19.0nm
5. Team AkzoNobel. DTL: 62.9
6. Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag. DTL: 68.4nm
7. Vestas 11th Hour Racing. DNS