The first 18 hours at sea for the seven Volvo Ocean Race teams showed just how competitve this race is going to be.
MAPFRE, the winners of just about every event in the pre-race build up this summer, and Dongfeng Race Team, also highly touted for performace in the lead up, slipped back in the fleet overnight after missing out on favourable conditions near the Spanish coast.
"Last night we lost a lot. We are in 5th or 6th position, which is hard for us," said Jin Hao Chen (Horace) on Dongfeng Race Team. "Pascal and Charles were working all night so we can be faster. It was a bad night, but sailing is sailing. We can come back!"
The big winners overnight? Vestas 11th Hour Racing and team AkzoNobel, who deserve special mention as they are sailing with a new crew combination that wasn't settled until less than an hour before dockout for the start.
Both Vestas 11th Hour Racing and team AkzoNobel gybed inshore to the north, making gains in stronger pressure near the coast after passing Cabo de Gata.
"We're pretty happy with how we've been going, can't complain right now," said Hannah Diamond, on the Vestas boat. "
We've got most of the boats a couple of miles behind us, as we went well overnight. But we know it's going to be tricky coming up to Gibraltar, and the 24 hours after that, so we're just trying to get as far ahead as possible now."
MAPFRE and Dongfeng have lined up slightly further south, and are sailing in slightly less pressure. But for all that, less than five miles separates third from seventh place, so there is plenty to play for on the final approach to Gibraltar.
There has been some talk of teams using different modes or sail combinations than we've seen in the past, with Sun Hung Kai's Luke Parkinson suggesting the teams may have been holding some things in reserve. It's early in the race, and there is still a lot for each team to learn.
"The learning curve is like that," laughed Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag's Tom Clout, making an upward trajectory with his hand. His team has fought hard to maintain contact with the leaders, positioned nicely between the southerly and northerly boats, holding down third place, on the race to the Rock.
The ETA for the leading boats at the Strait of Gibraltar is late afternoon, local time (around 15:00 UTC).
Get the most up to date positioning on the race tracker here - http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/dashboard.html
And see all of the RAW content off the boats here - http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/raw.html