It is a strange sight on the Volvo Ocean Race tracker on Saturday morning (UTC).
All seven boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet are sailing to the southwest. But the finish line in Cape Town is now nearly directly to the east. Every mile sailed in this westerly direction is adding to, not subtracting from, the distance to finish.
But it is a tactical gamble. The extra distance should be more than compensated by the stronger winds the teams are seeking. But it's no sure thing. And the navigators are starting to express their difference of opinion in the tracks they are taking.
This has lead to some interesting developments overnight. Dongfeng Race Team, previously furthest south, has ceded that position to MAPFRE by continuing to the east for nearly three extra hours.
In fact, by doing so, Dongfong is now positioned further east than onyone else, including team AkzoNobel who also gybed earlier, and as expected, after leading the fleet rankings over the past few days due to that easterly position, are now folding in behind the leaders.
At the back, further to the north, SHK/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic are sailing directly within in sight of each other, with first one and then the other making a pass as Scallywag navigator Steve Hayles explains:
"Right now we are about 300 metres away from Turn the Tide and every piece of information is available. We can track them in real time via the AIS systems and radar, we can see them move the sail stack and have an idea about sail setup and configuration.
"All this increases the focus on-board as you can assess every little change to water ballast, steering, sail set-up etc. and get a real time near metre accurate view of the differences. It's good fun and recently we managed to roll over the top of the other boat so it has helped lift the spirits but fortunes come and go and when it's their turn tonight in the middle of a fast moving situation in a rain cloud then we might feel a little more under pressure.
"Enjoying the close competition with at least one other boat but it's going to be long and stressful to do this for the remaining 2700 miles !"
In fact, with the boats so close, skippers Dee Caffari and David Witt sent each other a couple of notes over the past 24 hours.
Hope all happy on the good ship. We really must stop meeting like this and stop sending us the morning cloud doldrums. Who is your cloud whisperer anyway, that was an impressive move this morning?
I thought we were going to have drone wars but thanks for the wave at ours. I am afraid you got flicked the bird from what I remember!!
Sail safe and a little slower so we can go first, and lets go catch the others!
Really dee the south atlantic is a big place :-)
You, me and a tanker!
What mode did you guys just find. You left us standing, did not go well for my morale driving!