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Beginning the 5,264nm slog to New Zealand

Published on February 8th, 2015

(February 8, 2015; Day 1) – At 06:00 UTC this morning (14:00 local time), in a light but building breeze, the fleet started Leg 4, sailing from Sanya to Auckland, New Zealand.

After an offwind reaching start, Dongfeng led out of the 2 lap short course in Sanya Bay. The fleet then had to race the opposite way, some 14nm down the coast to the Guan Yin Buddha. This statue is a giant 135m (443ft) Buddha looking out into the South China Sea, wishing them well as they start the 5,264nm slog to New Zealand.

The run down to Guan Yin saw big shifts and velocity differences between boats closer and further off the coast. The intensity of the close, boat-on-boat coastal sailing has become the norm over the past three legs, and with boats finishing within minutes of each other, even at this early stage in the journey, every boat length counts.

It was the Dutch Team Brunel rounding the turning mark, and heading east in first place. Team Alvimedica were close on their heels with just nine minutes between the front and back of the pack. Leaving the Chinese bay in last place, it was MAPFRE’s job to close the door and turn out the lights on Sanya.

After the Guan Yin Buddha mark, Team SCA made an interesting move that showed real confidence in their navigation and understanding of the rules. The all-female team tacked back up the shore with the fleet. Then, with a backing left-hand shift, they tacked for the corner of the Sanya naval base exclusion zone, which was to be left to port.

All the other teams must have felt that they needed to sail back to Sanya Bay through the islands. However, this was not specifically stipulated in the sailing instructions, giving Team SCA a healthy gain back into the fleet again. The wind actually backed from 138º left to 022º.

The fleet now has left those flatter waters and is reporting 25 knot winds on the nose, beating into a slowly building wave state. They will be crossing some geographic underwater ledges that will increase the size of the waves even further… a fitting welcome for their first night at sea.

Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Position Report (as of 21:55 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 5286.0 nm Distance to Finish
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 0.2 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 2.0 nm DTL
4. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 2.7 nm DTL
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 4.5 nm DTL
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 4.6 DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideos

Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. The fourth leg, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm), began Feb. 8 with an ETA of Mar. 1-5.

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