31 Jan 2012

Volvo Ocean Race set to enter South China Sea

9:34 am on 31 January 2012

More than 1000 nautical miles of upwind sailing is looking oddly appealing to the Volvo Ocean Race crews charging away from the frustrations of the Malacca and Singapore straits into the South China Sea.

The top five yachts have compressed to within 25 nautical miles of each other with Team Sanya in sixth place trailing by more than 155 nm.

Leg leaders Telefónica were within hailing distance of Groupama overnight, but have since extended their 20 metre gap over the second place French team to more than three nautical miles.

In third place Puma are on the comeback trail, closing to within eight nautical miles of Telefónica after a fishing net they snagged put them more than 10 nm behind the leaders.

In fourth and fifth respectively Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team New Zealand boat Camper have continued to shadow each other closely in a match race along the Malaysian coast, more than 22 nm behind the leaders.

After four days' racing in Malacca Strait's fickle conditions Telefónica are expected to lead the fleet on a starboard rounding of the Horsburgh Lighthouse into the open waters of the South China Sea.