The five leading yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race are through the doldrums

The five leading yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race are through the doldrums and making an average of nine knots towards the equator, with Illbruck still setting the pace.

John Kostecki’s polished team broke free of the doldrums grip with a healthy 13-mile lead over Assa Abloy, which, barring disaster, they should be able to extend in the south-east trade wind belt.

The fleet will now track, almost in procession, to the first waypoint of Arq de Fernando de Nornonh, 200 miles off the Brazilian coast, crossing the equator en-route in the next 24 hours. “It’s a bit of a soldiers course from here on as we head for an island (Noronha) and it’s a straight line to the next one (Ilha Trindade) so nothing much is going to change until we get to there,” explained Tyco skipper Kevin Shoebridge.

While the others make a fast escape, Amer Sports Too, SEB and djuice still have the worst of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone yet to come.

For Team SEB in seventh, an unhappy situation for Gunnar Krantz seems to be getting worse. They have 244 miles to make up on Illbruck and are still falling further behind. “More than anything else it is important for us to get back in some sort of race situation and not just try to get out of jail. We are all a bit gutted over the situation. All this time and effort and stuck. I will try to sound a bit happier when I get a reason,” commented Gunnar yesterday evening.

In last place but still positive, Knut Frostad’s crew on Djuice continue to give everything they have and are not viewing the leg as over until it is won or lost. “We are trying and trying to follow up a good position report with another one but the breeze always dies. The fight goes on; though it seems that IIllbruck has an opportunity to take off. Djuice have to fight on in the back and we have no intention to give in until we crossed the finishing line in Cape Town,” said bowman Mikael Lundh.

Position Report Leg One Day 17, 0400hrs GMT