Thirty-five knots of wind, big seas, on the wind on starboard tack with three-reefs, darkness and 18 knots of boatspeed – the ingredients of what is turning out to be a very tough passage across the North Sea for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet.
Footage from Dongfeng Race Team taken overnight shows a wild and dangerous scene as the boat powers towards the southern tip of Norway, driven by the powerful southerly winds of Storm Hector.
Since crossing the top of Scotland, Dongfeng has been slightly to windward of leg leader MAPFRE. In the last few hours the Chinese-flagged crew has lost a couple of positions to Team AkzoNobel who came through to leeward, and then Turn the Tide on Plastic who have just edged ahead to windward.
With 275 miles to go on this critical leg for the overall outcome of the race, MAPFRE is still leading – but only just - from Team Brunel (+0.2); then comes Team AkzoNobel (+4), Turn the Tide on Plastic (+5.4) and then Dongfeng, 5.7 miles behind.
This is going to be a very demanding final day on this leg with the breeze forecast to hold up all the way to Gothenburg. You can bet your bottom dollar that Charles Caudrelier and his crew will be doing all in their power to get back up at the top of the leaderboard before the finish line is reached tonight.