Team Telefónica are fending off relentless attacks from Groupama to cling to the lead with the Team New Zealand boat Camper closing in fast as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet continues to race through the South China Sea.
Groupama's persistence has them within four nautical miles of Telefónica, the overall race leaders, with Puma a lurking presence 11 miles behind the frontrunner while Camper are a further few miles adrift.
The teams, relieved to be out of the Malacca Strait, were sailing against the wind towards a final landfall prior to what looks set to be a straight-line slog over 500 nm to the Vietnamese coast on their way to the Leg 3 Stage 2 finish in Sanya.
Some 80nm astern, the New Zealand entry lived up to its reputation of being fast upwind, revelling in the 15 knot north easterly winds to position themselves ahead of Ian Walker's fourth-place Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
After a difficult passage through the Malacca Strait section, which saw them drop to over 179 nm from the lead, Team Sanya were the last boat to exit the Singapore Strait.
Revised estimations now suggest the leading boats could complete the second stage of Leg 3 to Sanya as early as Sunday.