Skipper Ken Read continues to protect the middle of the racecourse as they approach the first mark

The fleet continues to make good progress towards the South Rock Light – which must be left to port. At 05:00 GMT this morning, PUMA, the leading boat, had just 182 miles to reach the mark. The crew cannot quite sail straight at it, but in the coming hours they will throw in a tack and head north.

Over the past 24 hours, PUMA skipper Ken Read and navigator Andrew Cape, have done a nice job of protecting the middle of the race course, never an easy task for a leading boat when the fleet splits as it has here.

Roaring up from the right are both the Ericsson boats, with Ericsson 3 still a shade over 20 miles ahead of overall race leader E4. On the 04:00 position report (22 January), both were struggling to sail to the right of true north. The Ericsson pair need the wind to shift to the right if they hope to cut into PUMA’s lead.

“We are expecting is a little bit more of a right wind direction,” Ericsson 4’s Horacio Carabell explained yesterday afternoon. “That will help us approach the waypoint. Everybody has to come back to the right and if have a bit more of a ‘righty’, we’ll benefit.”

To the left of PUMA are the two Telefonica boats. Blue isn’t much of a worry for PUMA this morning – Read has Telefonica Blue tucked in nicely on his weather hip, about six miles back. But Fernando Echavarri’s men on the Black boat have a little bit more leverage today, nearly 20 miles to the north of il Mostro, and just five miles back on distance to the waypoint.

While Green Dragon is following in the tracks of PUMA and Telefonica Blue, Delta Lloyd is making a bold move to the north. Skipper Roberto ‘Chuny’ Bermudez could be putting all of his eggs in one basket and hoping wind to build here.