The Volvo Ocean Race fleet are finally able to fly and this evening at 2200UTC, the boats far out in the Atlantic are relishing the benefit of a little more wind in addition to making good progress on starboard tack at about seventeen knots. This is the sort of speed that is associated with these types high performance racing machines.
Michi Mueller on the bow during a change from the Code-0 to the G1 gennaker. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa.
Although Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) is still ahead, the boats offshore are slowly but surely starting to chip away at her lead.
We are now starting to see the fleet spread out and although Telefónica (Iker Martinez/ESP) is 182 nautical miles (nm) behind Groupama 4, in the last three hours she's gained four miles. It's the same story for PUMA's Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) who also lost miles earlier but have clawed back to just three miles behind the Spanish boat.
Skipper Iker Martinez from Spain. Team Telefonica during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa.
It's a rather more encouraging picture for Camper (Chris Nicholson/AUS) too tonight, who are also making small inroads into their 245 nm deficit.
Meanwhile, Ian Walker (GBR) and his team on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam, who restarted the leg earlier today are struggling with the vagaries of the Mediterranean and have little or no breeze.
As Chris Nicholson, skipper of Camper said earlier in the week when faced with the same conditions, it is important to keep the boat moving in the light conditions regardless of the course, as once stopped, the Volvo Open 70 is very hard to get moving again.
Cloud formations from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa.
Volvo Ocean Race Website