Halfway through Leg 3 Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE were separated by less than 5 miles on the 0700 UTC position report, having swapped the lead back and forth and back again overnight.
It’s incredibly close racing, playing out in some of the most remote waters on the planet.
“It’s been a tough 12, 24, 36 hours, gybing along the ice gates,” said MAPFRE‘s Blair Tuke. “Everyone’s needing a bit more sleep, but we’ve been making good gains on Dongfeng, so we’re pushing hard.”
“We are wet, tired and hungry, all of us,” agreed ‘Chuny’ Bermudez. “The good thing in having Dongfeng close by is that you know immediately if you’re making a gain or not.”
At one point overnight (UTC), MAPFRE crossed ahead of their rivals, before falling back slightly on the latest report. But it’s very close.
“We had a very exciting and busy times over the last day, throwing lots of gybes in visual sight of DFRT, and including very close crosses,” wrote MAPFRE navigator Juan Vila.
“We are now enjoying some straight line sailing conditions again, with freshening NW winds, overcast skies, and our forecast show this will be the pattern for the next day.”
Behind, there is a bigger north / south split, with Vestas 11th Hour Racing taking up position further north compared to Brunel who is south, along the ice limit line.
That ice limit, and its shift to the north on Friday, has been a topic of discussion on board, as Vestas 11th Hour Racing navigator Simon Fisher notes: “It’s relocation has had the effect of massively compressing the fleet and we have seen the boats behind us come in from almost one hundred miles to less than twenty.
“Some on board are feeling a little hard done by, although we have also gained on the red boats in front. Others however, who happen to be the older and wiser guys on board, and not co-incidentally the ones who have had to pick their way through icebergs in Volvo’s gone by have welcomed the fact that we have been shifted north out of harm’s way! Either way, it is what it is and now the battle for positions has been freshly intensified.
“We are going to have to be on our game if we are going to distance the boats behind once more and try and reel in the ones in front…”
One of the beneficiaries has been team AkzoNobel, who have closed up to 220 miles from the leaders and 80 miles from Turn the Tide on Plastic. Not bad for a team who had to race without a mainsail for a few days.
Thousands of miles from land, people and more importantly help – watch this incredible footage of the Turn the Tide on Plastic crew recover from a classic Southern Ocean wipe-out…