Leg 8, Day 7: Dongfeng disputes the lead gybing round the northeastern corner of Brazil

On their seventh day at sea, the crew on Dongfeng is working hard in following southeasterly winds as they pass Natal and the northeastern corner of Brazil, 850 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Amazon.

In the last 25 hours Turn the Tide on Plastic has gradually lost her lead and now Vestas 11th Hour Racing is neck-and-neck with Dee Caffari’s team with Charles Caudrelier and Dongfeng just a couple of miles behind.

In the last 125 miles or so, Dongfeng Race Team has executed eight gybes with the breeze ranging from 14-17 knots and boatspeed around 14-18 knots. Up ahead the western edge of the Doldrums is about 300 miles away but it does not look likely to present a major obstacle.

However there could be light patches which would offer Dongfeng’s rival, MAPFRE, currently 34 miles behind the Chinese boat in sixth place, a chance to catch up.

Jack Bouttell, bowman on Dongfeng, summed up the race position: “Nearly a week at sea and we are nearing the top eastern corner of Brazil,” he said. “So in the next few days we need to make a call on how close we stay to the coast and how much gybing we do around the corner or whether we go straight up to the corner.

“Deciding that is what sets you up going further north. This leg we have had a lot of light wind, a lot of different wind, so it is much more tactical and it as hard but in different ways. We are sleeping less with more sail changes. It is different but it is as hard,” Bouttell added.

Meanwhile the fun and games with the Rubix Cube continues. Two of the little colourful boxes have now appeared on Dongfeng. It seems that Caudrelier is not just a brilliant sailor but can do the Cube behind his back…not sure if his technique would stand up to detailed scrutiny however.

It turns out that “Magic Stu” Bannatyne could do the Cube in less than a minute when he was a kid, but now that he is an old sailor he has forgotten how to complete it.

“The Rubix Cube was a huge deal back when I was about ten years old,” he said, with the Cube in one hand and Dongfeng’s wheel in the other. “We used to have competitions in our primary school class to see who could do it the fastest. I won one once - 47 seconds would you believe I finished the Rubix Cube when I was ten years old. Now I can’t do it anymore. This is a tricky proposition to try and do this and steer,” he added.

Position report at 8h08UTC:
1 - Turn The Tide of Plastic 3 439nm from Newport
2 - Vestas 11th Hour 0.5 from the leader
3 - Dongfeng Race Team 3.1nm
4 - Team Brunel 5.8nm
5 - AkzoNobel 21.1nm
6 - MAPFRE 38.3nm
7 - Scallywag 68.6nm