Dongfeng Race Teams retains the lead they grabbed overnight (UTC) on the 0700 position sked, but it's tenuous, with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and team AkzoNobel both within 10 miles. MAPFRE is in the hunt as well.
Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier has been pushing his crew hard, with the team completing at least six gybes overnight, significantly more than anyone else. This in an effort to retain westward leverage on the leading pack.
From On Board Reporter Jeremie Lecaudey on Dongfeng:
"I don't know where we're going, but we're going there!" says Charles Caudrelier skipper of Dongfeng as he gets back inside the boat to check on the new weather report. The last few hours have been hectic, gibing from one pressure to another... Charles keeps checking behind the boat as if he was followed, to the right and suddenly up to check the clouds. He explains that you can read the different pressure coming in: "you don't want rain, rain and wind don't work together..."
Vestas 11th Hour, who had the lead on Wednesday afternoon, had an agonising decision over how to protect that position. There's great video of the team making the call here - http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/raw/1729.html
"We're the easternmost boat right now, we've had a good sked, but we're feeling pretty exposed," said navigator Simon Fisher. "...The conservative thing to do would be to put a gybe in... it means giving up some of our lead, but in the fullness of time it's the safer option."
As of the 0700 UTC sked, Fisher and his team were in danger of being the easternmost boat of the leading pack again... watch for more movement among this group over the coming hours.