On Day 3 of Leg 4, Dongfeng and AkzoNobel’s decision to head offshore is looking good …for now.
Dongfeng Race Team and team AkzoNobel claimed the first bragging rights of Leg 4 three days into the sprint to Hong Kong as their bid to punch further offshore paid dividends.
Both teams, plus Turn the Tide on Plastic, opted to head out to sea on Wednesday in search of a boost from a northerly current, leaving the remaining four crews hugging the Australian coastline.
Twenty-four hours on and Dongfeng and AkzoNobel have built up a healthy 34 nautical mile buffer at the head of the fleet, while Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic occupy the third spot.
Although it’s still early in the 6,000-mile stage from Melbourne to Hong Kong, these small gains have given the top teams a welcome boost.
“Now there is a big gap between us and MAPFRE and Vestas 11th Hour Racing,” said Franck Cammas, stepping onboard Dongfeng for Leg 4 as navigator to replace the injured Pascal Bidegorry.
But the fleet has continued to compress over the past 24 hours as the distance between the boats comes down as well as the east-west leverage.
The two pace-setters for the fleet continue to be Dongfeng and overall race leader MAPFRE, who are slowly emerging as the leader from the ‘inshore’ group that was 40 miles off the lead 24 hours ago.
At this point in the Volvo Ocean Race, the learning curve is still steep and those who can adapt and improve have the best chance on the leaderboard.
Next up for the fleet is a break away from the northeast corner of Australia, with the Solomon Islands – which must be left to port – the next mark of the course.
Volvo Ocean race – Leg 4 – Friday 05 January @ 07:00 UTC
1. Dongfeng Race Team — distance to finish — 4,417 nautical miles
2. team AkzoNobel +2.5 nm
3. MAPFRE +7 nm
4. Vestas 11th Hour Racing +15 nm
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic +24 nm
7. Team Brunel +54 nm
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +65 nm