Leg 3 Day 32 onboard Team Malizia. Drone view of Team Malizia and Team Holcim - PRB neck to neck after 32 days of racing. © Antoine Auriol
The Ocean Race: tension mounts as racing remains painfully close
Tension, exhaustion, and extreme emotional swings through elation and despair.
That's likely to be the mood on board Team Holcim-PRB and Team Malizia all the way to the finish now.
Despite racing hard for over 33 days and over 14,000 miles sailed over ground, neither Boris Herrmann's Malizia, nor Kevin Escoffier's Holcim-PRB crew have managed to find a winning advantage.
To the contrary, they are often sailing within plain sight of each other, and have been exchanging the lead back and forth over the past 48 hours.
"We can see them on the computer, but we can also just see them out the window," said a very tired Sam Goodchild, speaking about a Malizia team that is staying close like a shadow.
It's no better on Team Malizia where Boris Herrmann's team was hoping to take advantage of unexpectedly strong conditions after Cape Horn to gain some separation in conditions that tend to favour the German boat. It hasn't happened and they are locked in a duel that appears destined to go all the way to the finish line.
"Holcim-PRB is just here," Herrmann says at one point, pointing slightly behind. "I'm happy to see them there, and not there," he adds, moving his arm slightly forward.
"We can see a 10 minute average speed on the computer and see if we are faster - green - or slower - red. For the moment we are faster."
This is close quarters, short-handed racing of the kind rarely seen on these boats. It will take every ounce of fighting spirit on board these boats to muster the 24/7 energy required to make gains. It is now a question of who can hold on the longest between now and the finishing line.
Further back, things are slightly better for 11th Hour Racing Team who have eked out a 60 mile advantage over Biotherm. Still absurdly close after nearly 14,000 miles of racing, but a measure of breathing room nonetheless.
The ETA is starting to take shape: for the leading pair, the most likely scenario is near sunrise in Itajaí on Sunday 2 April (near noon UTC).
The second pair is approximately one day behind, and looking at a Monday finish.