After three days in to the Volvo Ocean Race, crews have settled in to a routine as life on board the Volvo Ocean 60s, in the wet uncomfortable conditions, is starting to take its toll.

The Bay of Biscay, notable for its big winds and lumpy seas, lived up to its reputation with crews battling it out overnight on a 12-hour tack during the straight line dash to Cape Finisterre on the North West tip of Spain.

As the crew on Amer Sports One described earlier, “Today has been the opposite to yesterday’s conditions with lumpy seas, 25-30 knots of breeze on the nose and a lot of water over the deck. Down below feels a little like a bucking bronco machine gone wrong. We started the day with a code 0 (zero) and full main and after a few sail changes during the day are now down to a number 4 (headsail) and one reef (in the mainsail).”

Now, at 1000 GMT and 14 miles off the quiet Galicia coastline of north-west Spain, the highly charged battle for leadership of leg one continues.

A bird’s eye view of the fleet from satellite positioning shows Amer Sports One, Tyco and illbruck side by side in their own lanes, as if racing on a track. illbruck, on the inside, has a heartbeat advantage. A small shift or any breakage would instantly drop them back.

From on board Tyco, skipper Kevin Shoebridge explains: “It has been an uncomfortable night of banging and crashing as we beat across the Bay of Biscay. illbruck has taken the lead off us by a small margin, a small period of sailing in the wrong mode is all it takes. illbruck is a few miles to weather and we are constantly monitoring bearings to gauge our performance. Dalts (Amer Sports One) is to leeward about six miles I guess, no one else in sight.”

The conditions have now eased, making life more comfortable for the crews on deck and below. “It’s a nicer day in general with slightly less breeze and moderate sea,” added Shoebridge.

At the tail end of the fleet, news has emerged that yesterday afternoon djuice, currently in last position, suffered damaged to the headboard car (used to hold the top of the mainsail in place).

As a result, the team has had to perform a temporary repair to keep the mainsail up. Skipper Knut Frostad was concerned about sending the bowman up the mast in the treacherous conditions the fleet was experiencing.

Valuable miles were lost when the main was lowered to carry out the repair. They are currently sailing with two reefs in place and using the halyards from the fractional spinnaker to help keep the sail up and ease pressure on the main halyard.

As the boat heads into lighter winds, they will be able to perform more extensive repairs. Currently, Shore Manager BJ Grimholt is on his way to Ilha de Fernando Noronha (waypoint off Brazil) where he will meet the boat one mile offshore to give them a new headboard car.

Position Report 26 SEP 01 10.00 GMT