Leg 3, Day 5 onboard Holcim - PRB Team. © Julien Champolion
The Ocean Race: all five teams are making fast progress towards their goal
As Team Holcim-PRB continues to set the standard, racing at speed towards the first scoring gate at 143 degrees east longitude, three other boats are - finally - in fast pursuit.
Biotherm, 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Malizia needed to dive as far south as the edge of the ice exclusion zone to find the wind, but now they're in it and making miles to the east.
"We have good conditions, flat sea state," said Nico Lunven from on board Team Malizia. "It's very nice sailing. We have 22-24 knots of wind from the northwest, nice and fast sailing conditions.
"The goal is to move as fast as we can to the east. Tomorrow morning we will be caught by a cold front, coming from behind, so we'll have a transition (and the wind will shift south) for a few days," he concluded.
"The bow is finally pointed east and boat speeds are finally in excess of 20. Our five minute average is… double checking… 26 knots, and I might say a very pleasant 26," wrote Amory Ross from 11th Hour Racing Team's Imoca Malama.
"The sea is relatively flat for the Southern Ocean and the temps are relatively warm for the Southern Ocean, but I say this knowing our date with the corner of the ice exclusion zone, about 10 miles to our south and 440 miles east of here will bring a right hand turn and a dive into the extremes we know are not always so comfortable."
The three chasing Imocas are much further south than the leader, and skirting the ice exclusion zone near 45 degrees south latitude, while Kevin Escoffier's Holcim-PRB team are over 400 miles north, still holding on to that original weather system that's allowed them to escape to a 550 mile lead.
But at some point, they too will have to come south and that could present an opportunity for the chasing pack, as it will be Escoffier's turn to bump up against an area of lighter winds. Over the course of the next week, the fleet is forecast to compress much more tightly again.
Until then, it will be fast sailing along the southern boundary of the race course.
Meanwhile, away to the north, Guyot environnement - Team Europe is closing in on Cape Town, with an ETA of Saturday night. The mast and boat will be hauled out on Sunday, weather permitting, and work to repair the damaged structure will begin immediately.