Overnight we received a stunning piece of writing from Jeremie Lecaudey, the on board reporter on Dongfeng. We have it copied in full below.
But first, if you check the tracker and leaderboard here, you'll see that the rankings are all shook up since yesterday.
At 0700 UTC, based on distance to the finish in Cape Town, team AkzoNobel is in the lead with Vestas 11th Hour Racing trailing the rankings.
It's not a coincidence that AkzoNobel is furthest east (towards Africa) while the Vestas boat is furthest west (towards Brazil). The ranking is favoring progress to the east over progress south and penalzing any tactical decision to stay to the west.
So while this morning's ranking does provide a snapshot of what is happening out there, it may be more accurate to see who is furthest south, as that is where the teams are expected to pick up the low pressure freight train in a few days time.
And on the southerly progress ranking it's Dongfeng Race Team leading MAPFRE and Team Brunel. Whether team AkzoNobel's effort to cut the corner pays off will be come cleaer in a few days.
Now to Dongfeng Race Team, where Jeremie Lecaudey sets the scene for us overnight, describing the talent level on board:
Standing behind the driver is always a cool sensation, you can feel his concentration, you can see what the boat is going to do next just by looking at the wheel, get surprised by the speed we get. You look at all the numbers, the bearing he's trying to follow, the speed he's getting, true wind angle, true wind speed...
The one I like to watch is the polar percentage. The team analyses all the data received from the boat and they get a percentage on how the boat is performing depending on the wind, the conditions, the bearing, etc... Most of the time this number is close to 100, meaning the boat is performing well.
It took me a while to understand that Pascal was driving, his body against the stack of sails, one of these stylish positions that some drivers end up having. Stu puts one of his hand upside down, Charles drives like a cowboy on a big truck, Daryl... looks like he's driving his own car really... he'll talk to you in 30 + knots and still follow your conversation as if nothing was happening when you're shit scared, every wave stopping the boat from gliding perfectly on the ocean unlike tonight, the boat smoothly follows the waves and gain speed up to 20 knots in the gusts.
Daryl's average when I look at the polar percentage is always around 105, surely one of the best but what the hell, Jeremie, Carolijn, Jackson, they are all the best at it anyway...
Now Pascal, king of the maps, the man who will direct an orchestra of sailors on deck from his intercom microphone down below just by looking at numbers, I even considered him being a vampire for never sleeping, analyzing god knows what forecast files that came in. When you see that man on the wheel, at night, with no moon, you have to wonder.... He turns to me and goes: "It's nice at night isn't it?"
Funny thing is, Pascal is the only one that I saw reach 110.
He's the navigator.