Leg 6, Day 7: All change at the front of the fleet as Akzo and Scallywag come steaming through

The conditions may have eased up on board Dongfeng in the past 24 hours, but the Chinese boat sponsored by Dongfeng Motor Corporation, still has its work cut out.

Not only is the battle with the other red boat - MAPFRE - closer than ever, with just 0.4nm separating the two rivals, the focus is firmly on the new leaders, team AkzoNobel. They are currently 48 nautical miles in front, and looking likely to be the first to benefit from an increase in wind speed.

Both Akzo and Scallywag have been celebrating an impressive comeback of over 100 miles, once again showing the benefit in yacht racing of being at the back of the fleet in changeable conditions, but the crew on board Dongfeng have one objective in mind; to regain the lead.

The next two to three days will see conditions slowly build, with Dongfeng Race Team chipping away at boat speed hour-by-hour in an attempt to break down the deficit to the two boats to the south of them.

It’s is going to be an all-out drag race on the northeast tradewinds with Dongfeng and MAPFRE right on top of each other but Akzo about 40 miles away in terms of lateral separation and Scally another 60 miles to the southeast – so plenty of room for variation in local wind conditions.

With over 3,500 nautical miles to go to Auckland, the next tactical conundrum for skipper Charles Caudrelier and navigator Pascal Bidegorry will be where to pass through the Doldrums without getting stuck or giving away miles to the rest of the fleet.

As in the previous leg from Melbourne to Hong Kong, the Doldrums will be the make or break of this leg and this transition has the potential to turn the leaderboard on its head once again.

Latest position report at 0700 UTC:

1. Team AkzoNobel. DTF: 3 579nm
2. Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag. DTL: 4.4nm
3. MAPFRE. DTF: 48nm
4. Dongfeng Race Team. DTL: 48,4nm
5. Team Brunel. DTL: 50.4nm
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic. DTL: 56.7nm
7. Vestas 11th Hour Racing. DNS.