Kevin Shoebridge is acutely aware Team Tyco's lead is hanging on a thread decided by the clouds

While the Tyco crew may have navigated their blue and white Farr-designed yacht into an eight-mile lead on day eight of the Volvo Ocean Race, skipper Kevin Shoebridge is acutely aware their lead is hanging on a thread decided by the clouds. “We are in the land of clouds and if you get on the wrong side or caught up in one then it can lose you miles,” reported ‘Shoeb’ earlier today.

No lead is safe as the crews carefully weave their way through a minefield of clouds pointing their bows towards Brazil, passing the Canaries to port and sailing at 11knots in 13 knots of breeze with the wind on their quarter.

Behind Tyco, a concentrated battle, spread over four miles, between ASSA ABLOY, Amer Sports One, illbruck and Team News Corp continues. In the navigation station, the afterguard spend hours trying to plot the most effective route through the cloud-induced wind patches surrounding them. At their disposal they have live information gleamed from internet access as well as the experienced eyes of the crew on deck.

“The internet weather is really important. That really helps with the long term game plan but the short term game plan is keeping your head out of the boat, looking up the track, looking at the clouds trying to predict what the wind is going to do and wriggle your way around the clouds as efficiently a possible,” explained illbruck skipper John Kostecki earlier.

With all the boats “equal in speed”, Kostecki believes the coming days will be decided by positioning, not pace. He added: “It has nothing to do with boat speed. It appears to us its all weather dependent and about where you place yourself on the race course. So far it seems all the boats are equal in speed.”

Two miles ahead of illbruck, Grant Dalton on Amer Sports One has a similar outlook. “We are back in the hunt today after the wind Gods smiled on us this morning and we caught up ASSA ABLOY and illbruck in what appears to have been a bad cloud for them.

“It got us and News Corp as well but not to the same extent, with Tyco getting the best of it and stretching on everyone. Clouds are funny things though, they have a habit of evening out over the course of a race, so when you are handed a gift from a cloud you take it as you know that the next one just may have your name written all over it,” said Dalton.

Leg One Position – Day 8, 16.00 GMT