The first time the Volvo Ocean Race fleet saw the doldrums, on Leg 2 from Lisbon to Cape Town, it was an easy passage. The wind rarely, if ever, died competely, and the crossing was quick and painless.
That is not the case this time.
Average speeds are down. Progress is slow. And tension is rising.
The top six boats are within less than 10 miles on distance to finish and less than 20 miles apart on the water. It's close and it's tense.
Dee Caffari, currently leading on Turn the Tide on Plastic by virtue of their western positioning explains the thinking going through the minds of all the skippers and navigators:
"If we can stay with the fleet now and get through the light patch with them to the new wind that fills in and be lucky in the cloud activity in any doldrums, then we are in with a shot in the drag race to the finish where the rich will get richer."
She's talking about the Northeasterly trade winds, still several hundred miles to the north. The first boat to pick up this steady wind will accelerate away from the others.
These trades are expected to carry the fleet nearly all the way to the finish, so nosing into them first is critical for success on Leg 4.