Spanish skipper Xabi Fernández displayed an understated confidence over the past days. Despite trailing Dongfeng for most of the leg, he was comfortable with his position and sure that opportunities would arise.
Overnight, his belief was rewarded as MAPFRE sneaked past Dongfeng Race Team to grab the lead in Leg 3. The lead change happened just after the 0100 UTC position report, but MAPFRE had been sailing faster, set up further south, for several hours.
By 0700 UTC the lead was over 6 miles.
"The last 48 hours have been very intense," Fernández said. "We have had a very good battle with Dongfeng. We passed them, they passed us again and now... We know it's still going to be a long fight with Dongfeng."
"Conditions are shiftier and puffier," wrote navigator Juan Vila. "Some isolated squalls, but we do enjoy a nice swell helping to push the boat forward with very nice surfs.
"Looking ahead we expect to throw a few gybes again later today and night, by the eastern portion of this northern exclusion zone line. After that, we will be free to decide and set our course towards Melbourne.. It currently looks the rest of the trip to be reasonably fast, with some fair winds all the way to the Melbourne entrance."
For the backmarkers in the fleet, it's been a very furstrating 12 hours as a ridge of high pressure has swallowed them up, bringing lighter winds and big losses to the leaders.
Dee Caffari, the skipper on Turn the Tide on Plastic knew exactly what was coming: "We have a high pressure chasing us down and a barrier (the ice exclusion limit) we must stay north of. All the wind is to the south where we are not allowed to go. As a result we risk being swallowed up and arriving much later to Melbourne then those ahead who will squeeze through. Damn it!"
And so it has come to pass. First team AkzoNobel, then Turn the Tide on Plastic and this morning even Scallywag are dropping significant miles to the leaders.
For Team Brunel and Vestas 11th Hour Racing in the middle, it's a matter of biding their time and hoping opportunity knocks:
"We are hoping that in the coming days we can consolidate our position with the boats behind us getting held back by the lighter air as the high pressure catches them," writes Simon Fisher on board the Vestas 11th Hour Racing boat. "However, this also means that the two red boats in front have extended on us once again. We still have our sights on them but for now we will have to be patient. Hopefully we will get another opportunity to close them down in the coming days."