December 14, 2008 @ 17:34:27   Foto Photos by Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race

The fleet battle for position at the start of Leg 3

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Sunday, 14 Decmeber -

It's been a night of very light winds for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet but as day broke over India the entire fleet was south of the southern tip of the country and starting to head slightly further offshore.

Throughout the night, Green Dragon had taken an easterly, coastal passage to move into a fragile lead. In fact, Ian Walker's team was distinctly out of phase with the fleet sailing much further inshore. And it paid off as at 01:00, the Dragons had grabbed the lead.

But as of the 04:00 GMT report, with the entire fleet making a move offshore, Telefonica Blue had poked their nose in front. That being said, just six miles separates first from worst, so everyone is still in the game.

A look in the data centre shows the fleet is sailing in a generally light southeasterly breeze, but that is forecast to back to the northeast and increase as the wind funnels between Sri Lanka and India. They could use the help. At 04:00, the wind speed was down in the three to four knot range.

The first dispatches off the boats reveal the sailors are adjusting to life on board quickly and the competitive juices are flowing again.

"Wind is coming," wrote navigator Matt Gregory on board Delta Lloyd. "The winter Monsoon wind, and its northeast gradient should come to save us and propel us along to the south once again.

"Once we pass the landmasses of India and Sri Lanka we will be able to head east across the Bay of Bengal. The northeast Monsoon winds will still be our driving weather pattern through this 1000-mile stretch of open ocean...

"The last 600 miles of the race will be incredibly tricky as we sail down the Malacca Straights- the waterway between Sumatra and Malaysia. This is a narrow strip of water that is full of fishing boats, fishing nets, commercial shipping, more fishing nets, and, yes, more pirates. But this is also an area of very little wind and an opposing current. This section of the race is bound to be incredibly difficult.

"If we are lucky, we will be in Singapore by Christmas. For the past couple days, all the wives and girlfriends of my teammates have asked me if my forecasting models will get us to Singapore in time for Christmas... I didn't have the heart to tell them directly what I was thinking. The truth is, I don't care when we get to Singapore. All I want for Christmas this year is a podium finish."

As of 04:00, Delta Lloyd have some work to do, if they're to grab that podium for Matt. They're positioned at the back of the fleet, but less than a mile directly behind Team Russia. With Telefonica Black, these three are the furthest west in the fleet, with Telefonica Blue and Green Dragon ahead and inshore to the east. The rest of the fleet is sandwiched in between.


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