It will only become apparent who is the true leader of this tightly packed fleet once the steering stops and the course is set straight at Cape Town. Then Roger the Race Robot will come into his element and the calculations for distance from port will give us a leader.
ABN AMRO ONE is sailing the most southern course while their fellow contender for the lead, Brasil 1, is 50 miles further north heading into lighter winds. Sandwiched by the leading pair are Ericsson and ABN AMRO TWO. The kids are currently giving Neal McDonald and his crew a lesson in reaching and are maintaining a 16 mile gap as they head down the same route.
Adrienne CAHALAN, navigator on Brasil 1, reflects on the uncertainty of who will come out in front in the critical days ahead.
'The fleet is getting closer and closer together now and nerves are being stretched as we all choose the moment to turn the corner around the high pressure system and head more directly towards Cape Town.
'We are on the inside, so we are probably on the edge of the lighter wind, but that is the trade-off for sailing shorter miles. We have covered 4,600 miles since the start but after Fernando not all of it has been towards Cape Town. As Torben says, it is only the Father who knows who will come out in the best position.
'In spite of the tense racing atmosphere, the conditions today are second to none; a blue sky, 15 knots of wind and a smooth sea. It is hard to get better sailing than this. However, since Vigo we have been glued to the position and weather reports and at Day 14 things are no different.'
A team not experiencing the same intense competition is Sunergy and Friends. They have a good reason why their progress has been, well, not very fast.
'We are now banging and crashing our way upwind in 15 to 20 knots, not unpleasant, but just not as fast as if we were reaching in the same conditions.
'We have just learnt why this has occurred (our less that favourable wind conditions). We have a sinner on board. I have just been informed that Mark FULLERTON, who claimed to have crossed the Equator previously, did NOT sit in judgment in the Court of King Neptune on that crossing. We are doomed. The only way to ensure a safe passage with fair winds is for us to hold a special hearing and beg and grovel for King Neptune's presence to judge Mark and find him guilty of heinous crimes, deliver his punishment, and to accept him into the Realm of King Neptune.
'We exhausted our creative juices with the punishments delivered to GT (Graeme TAYLOR) and Benny (Ben JONES) yesterday, so this is where we require some outside assistance (not of the type that would upset the Race Committee). We require some input as to the types of punishment that must be suffered by Mark in order to appease King Neptune, and Huey, the wind god. Please submit your suggestions with the subject, 'Punish Mark'.'