The latest in pictures, video and words from the Volvo fleet as they make their way to Auckland

A 24-hour drag race looms for the fleet of the Volvo Ocean
Race as they enter the final stages of what has been a compelling fourth leg.

Groupama currently have a comfortable lead over Ken Read’s
Puma, and they strengthened their lead over the American crew as they found
fresh trade winds and headed towards New Zealand.

REFLECTS: Groupama’s Martin Krite is deep in thought as they beat down to

Puma was forced to fend off an attack from overall race
leaders Telefonica, who had narrowed the gap between from 62 miles to just 18
as Puma were hit by two squalls.

But after pulling back 10 miles on leg leaders
Groupama and putting another seven on Telefónica, thoughts on Puma had turned
back to their impending arrival into Auckland.

Much like previous legs, the fleet has been split, with the
leaders taking an easterly route, and the chasing boats of Camper and Team
Telefonica opting for a more westerly course.

Video HIGH
PRESSURE ZONE; As the distance to Auckland clicks down, crews begin to feel the

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker
continues to maintain a positive outlook on his crew’s chances in this leg, despite
losing ground after being stuck in a wind hole cast by the island of New Caledonia.

said Abu Dhabi had spent a full day fighting to escape from the clutches of a
large cloud in the lee of the island despite having stayed well away to avoid
just such a problem. 

CHOPPY CONDITIONS: Paul Willcox shows
off his new trim following a visit from King Neptune on board Abu Dhabi Ocean

“I wouldn’t have felt so hard done
by if we hadn’t had a conservative strategy of staying on Groupama and Puma’s
line 100 miles offshore of the island,” he said. “Groupama and PUMA sailed on
by without missing a beat and we lost 100 miles at least.

Walker said the costly park up was all the more painful for coming straight
after Abu Dhabi had lost touch with the top three boats when they had to detour
around the top of the Solomon Islands.

But he added: “After sailing so well and pushing hard to get
into third we now find ourselves in fifth, but hopefully with a shot still at

FOUR: Just four crew members needed on deck as Puma powers on.

“We have just
made a nice gain back at them and so maybe we still have a chance to convert
our easterly position into gains.”

Camper tacked along with Telefonica midway through Leg 4 and
find themselves around 200 nautical miles behind the leaders. But being caught
in recent windless zones has hugely diminished their chances of an overall leg

HAND: Mike Pammenter removes loose skin from his hand onboard Camper.

Despite the gap between the leaders and the chasing boats,
Groupama bowman Brad Marsh still feels a chance may arise for the likes of
Telefonica, Puma and Camper.

ELEVEN: Telfonica’s Neal McDonald onboard during the fourth leg.

He said: “If the weather system changes, then it’s easy for
all the boats to get scattered across the ocean.

“That creates a chance for someone like Telefonica or Puma
to make large gains.”

MAN: Brad Marsh makes a rig check for his Groupama team. 

GRIN AND BARE IT: Aksel Magdahl trimming the mansail for
Team Sanya. 

Richard Mason prepares to treat an abscess on Cameron Dunn’s chin onboard team

It has been another arduous journey for the Chinese entry
Team Sanya, who remain in their usual sixth place trailing Groupama by more
than 300 nautical miles, and they are expected to be the last boat to reach
Auckland in around four days time.

Video SPLIT PERSONALITIES: As the boats approach the Solomon
Islands and a change of wind in the offing, the fleet splits into two.

Listen to Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad thoughts
about Leg 4 so far and what the fleet can expect between the Doldrums and
(latest podcast episode.