As the Volvo Ocean Race fleet lines up on approach to the Doldrums, it is clear that the boats further to the east are sailing a faster angle and making gains.
Scallywag and team AkzoNobel, both of whom cut the corner on the right hand turn a few days ago, are now paying the price. Both have sacrificed some miles to get further east, especially Scallywag, who is now (0700 UTC) polling in third place with MAPFRE up to second.
AkzoNobel however, retains the lead, and has consolidated her position by getting into a position directly south of the chasing pack.
"There's a long way to go of course, but it's fantastic to lead," said AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont. "It's always better to lead than to follow!!
"You're going to lose some and win some, but as we come into the equator and the doldrums, it's a big challenge, as we make choices and the guys behind can see if they work out or not... we're in a bit of a vulnerable spot."
The team is also facing some technical challenges, with a problem with a hydraulic ram. It's not too serious yet, but if it can't be repaired, it will impact their ability to trim sails and mast settings.
Although the boats are in the trade winds, that doesn't translate into steady conditions 24 hours a day. Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking describes a frustrating period the team experienced yesterday:
"Tight reaching in 25-30 knots, big heeling angles, so it is impossible to sit down, it is mostly standing and of course it is wet so not particularly the point of sailing we like...
"Yesterday there were a lot of squalls and we got hit badly by one, losing all the hard-fought miles we'd gained in 6 hours. We were in a big rain squall, only 12 knots of breeze and nearly on the wind and had that for two hours. You cross your fingers that the other boats have a similar situation, but no, we lost 14 miles in 6 hours, ouchh. All the small gains we made vanished like zapp.
"Frustrating , but you carry on and in the last last two position reports we made again small gains. But the fleet will compress in roughly 36 hours, dramatically, as the leaders sail in lighter air first and we still sail in the old breeze, then it will be all smiles again..........................not that we are not smiling right now:-)"