Holcim-PRB has reduced lead in The Ocean Race but retains a strong position

Holcim-PRB has reduced lead in The Ocean Race but retains a strong position

Image:  The Ocean Race - Onboard 11th Hour Racing Team. Charlie Enright in the helming bubble and a view of the ocean outside. © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing / The Ocean Race

Near midnight UTC overnight on Tuesday, Team Holcim-PRB made yet another gybe to the south, looking to stay close to the ice exclusion zone. 

Its nearest competitor - Team Malizia - continued pushing to the east, and for the first time since the start and the Cape of Good Hope, over two weeks ago, there was a boat positioned further east than Holcim-PRB. 

As shown on the tracker leaderboard, Kevin Escoffier's Team Holcim-PRB and Boris Herrmann's Team Malizia are now neck and neck.

But from a tactical standpoint, most observers would say Escoffier still has the stronger position. The further south one is, the shorter the distance to Cape Horn as in reality the route for this part of leg 3 is a long, gentle arc to the right around Antarctica. That means the southerly position is the inside lane on the track. 

Nevertheless, it's been a strong couple of days for Malizia since the scoring gate, and the pressure is on.

The fleet is now racing in 25 knot northwesterlies, directly south of New Zealand, and another big speed bump lies ahead, with a ridge of high pressure and light winds that the boats will push against. 

That will be an advantage for Biotherm and 11th Hour Racing Team as the fleet is forecast to compress and the lighter conditions towards the end of the week allow for much needed repairs. 

But until then, it is full speed ahead to the east.