At the front of the fleet, PRB and Paprec-Virbac 2 are battling for position at the head of the leaderboard, a spot PRB has occupied since the doldrums. But on the 14:00 position report, Paprec-Virbac 2 had eased in front by less than one mile, and had extended that to all of four miles on the 16:00 position sked.
It's even closer in the fight for fourth, where Hugo Boss has been reeling in Delta Dore all day. Early in the afternoon, skipper Alex THOMSON (GBR) made the pass and by 16:00 was ahead by just three miles.
"This morning we got a bit of a shock that we were averaging a knot and a half quicker than Delta Dore and were faster in these conditions," THOMSON explained. "We were initially a little bit to the east of her, Delta Dore sailed up to us to see what was going on, we had the same sail configuration, they were running at 100% but we were running at 110%. Capey [co-skipper Andrew CAPE (AUS)] thinks it's his magic fingers but I think it's the boat!"
And then, 70 miles behind, Temenos II has maintained its 20-mile advantage over Mutua Madrileña over the past day. All in all, three good battles up and down the fleet.
Left on its own in third place is Veolia Environnement, just over 130 miles adrift of the leaders and nearly 130 miles ahead of the chasing Hugo Boss. Further back, Estrella Damm is fighting to catch Mutua Madrileña, while Educación sin Fronteras approaches the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha.
The two leading boats are in a strong position, with many in the chasing pack making the observation that the leaders might just catch a weather system that shoots them down south well ahead of the pack. The coming days will show whether that fear is justified.
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