Volvo Ocean Race’s six-strong fleet finally headed out of Auckland on Wednesday morning (Tuesday evening UK) after the Leg 5 departure was delayed 67 hours to avoid the worst of Cyclone Pam.
The start was in light conditions and it was Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) who set the pace, leading round the final mark out into the Southern Ocean.
At the early morning report, Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Dongfeng and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are swapping the lead in a light 8 to 12 knot breeze.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) are 3 nm back and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) 6 nm.
These first hours into Leg 5 have been intense with coastal sailing conditions and a lot of gybes, roughly counting about 15 gybes in 10-12 knots of breeze in the Hauraki Gulf, approaching Cape Colville north of the Coromandel Peninsula.
Team SCA is the one taking a more offshore route compared to the other competitors. Both Abu Dhabi and Team SCA have reported having to clear weed from the rudders, Walker saying they had to do a full stop to clear weed off the keel.
Leg 5, the Southern Ocean leg, from Auckland to Itajaí in south eastern Brazil, is 6,776 nautical miles (nm) long, will take roughly three weeks to complete, and is one major reason why many of the sailors in the fleet are competing in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The route takes the boats close to Point Nemo, the remotest place from land, in the South Pacific where the nearest humanity can be found in the space stations patrolling the earth.
It will also take the fleet back into the Atlantic for the closing stages of the leg for the first time since November, but, memorably for most, they will pass Cape Horn in the Southern Ocean on the tip of South America.
Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 5 – Updated Positions at 06:40 hrs 18 March 2015
1. Team Brunel – Distance to Finish 6456 nm
2. MAPFRE – DTL 0.1 nm
3. Dongfeng Race Team – DTL 0.3 nm
4. Team Alvimedica DTL 1.1 nm
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – DTL 3.1 nm
6. Team SCA – DTL 6.3 nm