By virtue of being slightly further south and able to sail a faster angle to the wind, Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE are making gains on the chasing boats.
But with only 7 miles separating the top pair, the pressure is starting to manifest itself.
"What a battle we are having with our Chinese friends of Dongfeng! I should say it is good fun but it is being quite hard to be honest," wrote skipper Xabi Fernández on MAPFRE.
"Right now we are in a drag race heading ENE, making a lot of nm towards Melbourne which feels good and we have Dongfeng just a few miles ahead of us... 2300 nm to go and plenty of action so we keep with the moral high as we feel we are doing a very good leg. We keep stretching in the boats behind so that is good too."
On the leading boat, Dongfeng, skipper Charles Caudrelier is feeling the pressure.
"After 9 days of racing and more than 3000 miles I start to hate the red boat of our spanish friends! I heard that Xabi is an ex cycling champion and as we say in France about biking MAPFRE is sucking our wheel, following all our moves and waiting for an opportunity to attack."
Caudrelier says there are still many options on the routing ahead and that there will even be opportunities for Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Brunel to come back.
But for the moment, the weather is favouring the boats to the south, the leaders, and the others will need to wait for their opportunity.