Navigational challenges dominate the third leg

Over the past 24 hours life on board has all been about tacking and stacking as the fleet makes its way to the scoring waypoint of Pulau We, at the entrance to the Malacca Strait, 500 miles away.

Telefonica Blue, having invested heavily in the southern-most route of the racetrack, continues to head the leaderboard. The lateral separation between Bouwe Bekking’s men and the rest of the fleet has grown to over 110 miles.

However, with an anticipated southeasterly wind shift, they have to make a decision: “The strings in our minds are very, very tight right now,” explained Bekking. “Keep going, and wait for the shift, or bite the bullet and go north, tough. We have nice leverage, but we need a shift to stay in the game.”

“Yes, it’s risky, very risky. We didn’t have a real opportunity to tack to the north, so we stuck to our guns and believe what we see on the weather charts. It is a matter of breathing in and out and staying calm. We have all faced worse moments in our sailing lives.”

By the 16:00 GMT postion report, Telefionica Blue’s Distance To Leader advantage to Ericsson 4 had been reduced to 33 nautical miles, a loss of six miles in the past three hours.

There is a game of trading places in the three-way scrap for third position. Currently Green Dragon ( 47) holds sway over E3 ( 48) and Telefonica Black ( 52) while Puma ( 54) is watching developments with interest.

Meanwhile at the tail, the gap between Team Russia ( 104), who are way up in the north, and Delta Lloyd ( 107), following a more conservative track in the middle of the group, has narrowed.

This installment of the race – a 1,950-mile slog from Cochin to Singapore – is all about the navigational challenges of tropical cyclones, thunderstorms, monsoons, fickle winds and busy shipping channels. And fishing boats – hundreds of them.

Volvo Ocean race – Day Five: 18:00 GMT

1 Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) DTF 1046
2 Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) 30
3 Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders Lewander/SWE) 40
4 Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) 44
5 Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) 44
6 PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) 46
7 Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) 99
8 Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) 106