As the sun rose, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet finally started Leg 5 some 67 hours after the initial start time. With Cyclone Pam now passed, her storm-force winds were now reduced to fickle whispers at the start as Dongfeng Race Team led the fleet out of the Waitemata Harbour.
The fleet may have avoided the deadly weather system, but the six boats still face the toughest of all nine legs as they race through the Southern Ocean to Itajaí in Brazil.
“The conditions will be light early on, with coastal sailing up to the easternmost tip of New Zealand, but by Monday or Tuesday, they will have left the South Pacific and then it will be the full-on Southern Ocean regime,” said the race meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante.
Cyclone Pam forced the postponement from Sunday until Wednesday. It wrought havoc in the South Pacific, and caused at least 11 deaths on Vanuatu, but it will no longer be a major factor for the fleet, Infante added.
Leg 5 (6,776 nm) Position Report (as of Mar. 17, 21:40 UTC) 1. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 6543.6 Distance to Finish 2. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 0.4 nm Distance to Lead 3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 0.6 nm Distance to Lead 4. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 0.7 nm Distance to Finish 5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 0.9 nm DTL 6. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 1.1 nm DTL 7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start