Team AkzoNobel's low road approach to Auckland continues to pay dividends today with the crew in first place in the standings at to the 0700 UTC (0800 CET) position report this morning.
Over the last 24 hours three most southerly boats - team AkzoNobel (UN), Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG) and Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) - have all gradually turned eastward and accelerated as they begin a long arc-shaped route towards New Zealand.
Meanwhile further north, Team Brunel (NED), Mapfre (ESP) and Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) have also begun to turn towards Auckland but are sailing at a significantly slower pace.
The reason for this and the leaders' "great circle" course is a high-pressure light wind zone lying directly in the fleet's path.
"We are going to have to sail a bit further to make sure we stay in the most breeze and don't put ourselves in a big area of light winds that is positioned between us and North Cape right now," confirmed team AkzoNobel navigator Jules Salter (GBR).
The latest weather predications suggest the boats in the south like team AkzoNobel should continue to gain over the next 24 hours. But when you are dealing with complex ocean weather systems nothing is ever certain.
With that in mind, Australian helmsman and sail trimmer Luke Molloy offered these words of caution.
"The weather window has opened up a bit for the boats in the north allowing them to cut the corner a little bit," he said.
"When we actually get to New Zealand the weather looks very complicated - very light airs, really shifty winds - so it still could be anyone's race at this stage."
For now the team AkzoNobel crew must concentrate on winning the race that they are in with the boats in the south.
"There is nearly 300 miles separation from us and the boats in the north - Brunel, Dongfeng and Mapfre - so there is absolutely nothing we can do about those guys right now," explained watch captain Chris Nicholson (AUS).
It's a task not made any easier by their nearest rival Scallywag switching into Stealth Mode overnight therefore disappearing off the six-hourly reports sent to the boats until 0100 UTC (0200 CET) update tomorrow (Monday February 26).
[Image © Richard Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race]