TeamVodafoneSailing has run down most of a lead of 60nm in the space of just eight hours in the Auckland-Musket Cove, Fiji Race.
She trails the Volvo 70 Camper, sailed by Emirates Team NZ, by 15nm at 3.00pm NZT.
Although TVS seemed to be in some difficulty earlier in the day when she was averaging 20kts, and needing to be averaging 23.5kts and higher, she increased her sped substantially in the afternoon.
Currently she is sailing at speeds which have reached 31.5kts and Camper, which has led the 1,140nm race from the start to almost the finish is sailing at 20kts herself.
At the 1500hrs sked, TVS was showing an average of 20kts but views of the onboard speedo sent via Predictwind.com have shown readings up to 31.5kts.
The chase is a remarkable achievement for TeamVodafoneSailing which at 2200hrs last night was 100nm behind Camper an she has managed to reel in most of that margin in 17hrs.
The course for both yachts are to sail directly to the finish.
The projected ETA for TVS is around 1910hrs with Camper finishing at 2000hrs - meaning that the race is extremely close, rather than a definitive result.
Predictwind.com advise that 'so long as Fiji Vodafone roaming is working (should be) should be getting live pictures, and 1min tracking/data pictures off the boat between 4:30 and 6:30pm by clicking here
Sail-World reported at 1100hrs NZT, that TVS had slowed to 19.8kts and was 38nm behind, if those speeds hold, by dead reckoning, Camper will win by 90 minutes, finishing at around 7.00pm. To win, TVS needs to sail at an average of 23.5kts or better, assuming that Camper's average speed does not increase above 17kts.
The margins are now very tight and obviously as the two boats get closer together, they will fall into the same wind strength and direction.
You can click on the link just above to see the current sped aboard TVS in near real-time and pictures should become available before the finish.
From aboard Camper, they report:
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand is engaged in a race to the finish of the Auckland-Musket Cove race with the big Vodafone trimaran hot on its heels.
As Thursday progressed, CAMPER’s hard-earned lead, that at one point stretched to 174 miles, was slowly whittled away as the big trimaran put on the pace in the following wind.
The first days of the race were sailed in light to moderate head winds, better conditions for monohulls. CAMPER led the fleet from Auckland, painstakingly stretching a small advantage into a comfortable lead.
But yesterday, when Vodafone got into the south-east trades, the nature of the race changed. Vodafone picked up speed and started the relentless pursuit of CAMPER.
It was exactly the conditions that worried the CAMPER crew. Navigator Will Oxley was not entirely happy on the second day of the race when CAMPER had just over 100-mile lead on Vodafone. He said: 'Our main competition, Vodafone, has continued on a north-east route. They look to have had some light winds and they are now 105nm further from the finish than us.
'I think we need about a 160nm lead when Vodafone enters the trades to hold them off for the last 36 hours. So, even though 105 looks like a good lead, having raced against the Orma 60 trimarans in the Atlantic, it’s still not enough!'
Will it be enough? We will all have the answer later today. Progress can be viewed on the Vodafone Play website click here to go straight to the full screen version. If you are using on an iPhone, please tilt the device horizontally to get the ideal view of both screens. You can wind back the display to follow her progress on the map and accompanying time-lapse pictures as she starts, and then exits the Hauraki Gulf. Now TVS has left 3G coverage only her boat position and actual speed is shown on the display.
Or, you can follow the whole fleet on the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron website www.rnzys.org.nz or click here?nid=84514 to go straight to the Yellowbrick tracker and zoom in to see the individual race yacht's positions updated every 20 minutes.