Over 170 miles wiped off Leg 4 and despite a change at the top of the leaderboard it’s still hand-to-hand combat in the South China Sea.
As the fleet pounds upwind in 16 knots of north-easterly breeze, Telefonica Blue holds a one-mile cushion as PUMA and Ericsson 4 slug it out for second.
By the 16:00 GMT Position Report, there were just nine miles from first to last. The leading trio has opened a slight gap to Delta Lloyd and Ericsson 3 (both +5 Distance To Leader). Telefonica Black was sixth (+7) while Green Dragon, hurting in the upwind conditions, is a further two miles adrift at the rear of the grid.
As Mark Chisnell mentioned in this morning’s TEN ZULU REPORT the tactical choices are limited at present, hence the close racing.
Telefonica Blue navigator Simon Fisher reported that he was enjoying the down time though that will change as the leg progresses and decision time comes round again.
"The first day has been very pleasant sailing, upwind or just slightly fast in nice breeze and sunshine,” he wrote. “Even the sea is pretty flat making it nicer still. Everyone is enjoying it while it lasts as we know there will be harder (and colder) times to come.
"This morning brought a little bit of island dodging, something that will no doubt become a common occurrence as we head north towards the Philippines, as many reefs and small Islands lie ahead. Murphy's Law always dictates that you end up pointing straight at them despite your best efforts to stay clear. That said it looks like the next hundred miles or so is in clear water so for now I am going to sit back and enjoy the ride.”