Groupama Sailing Team and Team Telefonica battle it out in the Starit of Malacca, during leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Sanya, China.
The Malacca Strait nightmare is almost over with just 60 nautical miles standing between the leaders and the open ocean.
Just 12 miles, using the Volvo Ocean Race method, covers the first five boats overall.
Team Telefónica and Groupama sailing team were inseparable overnight as the leading pack of three was reduced to two, with PUMA Ocean Racing snagged by a net and left more than 10 nm behind in third.
PUMA have coped with adversity consistently well on this stage, however, and they were on the comeback trail by Monday morning, though still over five nm behind.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing also closed the gap with the leaders overnight and are now 20 nm in arrears, while Team Sanya have dropped further off the pace 150 nm in their wake.
The teams averaged between 170 and more than 200 nm distance overnight and are likely to break free into the South China Sea within the next 12 hours.
PUMA Media Crew Member Amory Ross said the team estimated they had lost about 10 nm on the leading pair while they attempted to break free from the fishing net.
But worse still, Ross said, was the fact that PUMA’s Mar Mostro was left bobbing breezeless when they missed a wind shift while attending to their snag.
'While untangling the tangle we sat idle as the dwindling night winds vanished, and we now find ourselves struggling in a windless transition-zone while the leaders sail away in the old breeze and the trailers catch up in the new,' he said.
'It is upsetting. We are now closer to CAMPER and Abu Dhabi than we are the other two.'
The crew on board CAMPER remained buoyed this morning by the thought that the open ocean was not far away. But there were still plenty of hurdles to overcome, reported MCM Hamish Hooper.
'The last big obstacle course to pass through before then is the shipping lanes of the Port of Singapore,’’ he said. 'That will be more like dodgem cars rather than pinball.'
At 0700 UTC on Monday there was about 1150 nm distance between the leaders and the finish line at Sanya, China.
The teams are expecting a tough couple of days beating in short, sharp seas and are likely to stick close to the Vietnam coast as they trek north.
The yachts are expected to finish Leg 3 Stage 2 around February 5-6.
Volvo Ocean Race website