Leg 6, Day 17: Imagining the Winter Olympics while dodging atolls in the south Pacific

Dodging atolls northwest of New Caledonia and trying to avoid rain clouds, where the breeze can go from nothing to 20 knots and back to nothing again, Dongfeng Race Team and their old friends on MAPFRE are continuing to duke it out on the long road to Auckland.

Today the two red boats are just three miles apart, with MAPFRE ahead, and just over 50 miles behind the leader, Team AkzoNobel, with the miles to go figure now reading around 1,225. But the route into the finish is far from straightforward, something that presents plenty of opportunities for both Dongfeng and MAPFRE to catch the boats in front and also – and more importantly – to make a decisive move in a battle between them which has lasted for days. As they head further south they are moving into more stable easterly tradewinds.

But a cold front moving east from the Australian coast is encouraging navigators to stay west of the direct route for now, as they look to hook into it, before they head east towards North Cape at the tip of New Zealand’s North Island. On Dongfeng, as on the other boats, there are concerns about food stocks on what is turning out to be a long and exhausting leg through the Tropics.

Martin Keruzore, the OBR, sent some great photos of an atoll, northwest of New Caledonia, shot from the drone as Dongfeng sails around its broken water. Carolijn Brouwer Tweeted a lovely picture of a sunset with MAPFRE’s dark sails picked out against the orange and red sky on the horizon. “Another nice end of the day at the office,” she wrote. Charles Caudrelier’s crew have been having a bit of fun imagining what sports they would choose in the Winter Olympics.

For Marie Riou it would be ice dancing, for Black the luge. Kevin Escoffier fancies a bit of downhill skiing while for Carolijn it would be speed skating and for Daryl it would be curling. No doubt this will all be explained a bit more in one of Dongfeng Race Team’s new videos…

Latest position report at 0700 UTC:
1. :Team AkzoNobel DTF: 1 168nm
2. Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag DTL: 7.8nm
3. Turn the Tide on Plastic. DTL: 13.5nm
4. MAPFRE. DTL: 53.9m
5. Dongfeng Race Team. DTL: 56.8nm
Vestas 11th Hour Racing, DNS