Overall race leader, Dongfeng Race Team were in no mood to celebrate Chinese New Year after being relegated to the back of the fleet for the first time since the Volvo Ocean Race started.
The crew have been struggling to re-establish their grip on the fleet and the latest setback was a problem with their mast track, which has broken free in one area. The track attaches the mainsail to the mast. This is the third time this issue has hampered the team during the race. They have made a temporary fix with lashings to secure the track to the mast, but will want to make a more permanent repair as soon as they reach lighter winds in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Dongfeng’s French skipper Caudrelier was already not in the best of humours after opting against a more northerly route towards Taiwan, early in the leg, after exiting the Luzon Strait. One of his biggest rivals for the overall prize, Bouwe Bekking of Team Brunel, left Dongfeng Race Team in their wake after deciding to take that navigational gamble. “I was too conservative” Caudrelier later conceded.
Despite the glum mood, Dongfeng Race Team were certainly not out of contention altogether for good leg points (1 for first, 6 for last), with some 2,700nm left to sail before reaching their destination in New Zealand.
Fifth-placed Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), who had also taken the ‘northern route’ with Brunel on this leg, but without making the same gains as the Dutch team.
The fleet is due to arrive in Auckland at the end of the month.