This is shaping up to be an epic battle over the final 100 miles to Auckland with five boats within seven miles of the lead…
This is shaping up to be an historic finish, with five boats racing within sight of each other – less than seven miles separating first placed team AkzoNobel from fifth placed Dongfeng Race Team.
MAPFRE and Dongfeng in particular have chewed up the miles over the past 12 hours and are now legitimate contenders to win the leg.
“I can’t believe Dongfeng and MAPFRE are there,” said David Witt when he first spotted them from on deck.
Witt’s Scallywag and AkzoNobel have been dueling for the lead for the past 12 hours.
“There’s no justice in that… It’s been a pretty tough day.”
Turn the Tide on Plastic, in third place, is in danger of losing a first podium finish as the two overall race leaders make their final charge.
“Red boats inbound at pace. You have got to be kidding me,” she tweeted. “140-miles behind and here they come. Never write off a red boat!”
Even Team Brunel, seemingly impossibly far behind just 24 hours ago, is now just over 35 miles from the leader – a gap that is closing rapidly.
The compression in the fleet has been caused by a bubble of high pressure that the leaders have been bumping up against since rounding the top of New Zealand. At times, boat speeds have been as low as two knots.
The trailing boats have had an easier time of it, closing what had seemed to be an insurmountable gap with each mile sailed.
It’s set up an epic finish, with the latest ETA being after midnight local time, between 1200 and 1330 UTC.