It has been a tortuous 24 hours for the weary team AkzoNobel sailors who have had to suffer in silence as their once comfortable lead was ground down to zero in drifting conditions off the northern tip of New Zealand.
As the team AkzoNobel boat came to a virtual standstill in only the very lightest of zephyrs with its sails wafting ineffectively on the gentle ocean swell, over the horizon came second place Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG) - seemingly with its own personal breeze.
At one point soon after Scallywag took the lead but the team AkzoNobel sailors weren't going to stand for that and pretty soon clawed their way back in front.
Later in the day, as team AkzoNobel and Scallywag matched raced each other tack for tack, it was the turn of the third-placed Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) crew to pick up fresh breeze and make a bid for the top spot.
Meanwhile fourth and fifth placed Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) and Mapfre (ESP) had also started a charge, barrelling along in the strongest breeze of all and eating up miles on the leaders at a rapid rate.
As darkness fell in New Zealand this evening team AkzoNobel held a narrow lead over Scallywag with Turn the Tide a little further back in third. No more than seven nautical miles (13 kilometers) separated all the top five boats.
The 0700 UTC (0800 CET) position report showed the frontrunners accelerating in a building breeze touching speeds just short of 20 knots (37 kilometers per hour).
With a fraction under 100 miles still to race the leaders are expected to be approaching the finish line sometime after midnight Tuesday night/Wednesday morning in New Zealand (midday CET in Europe).
[Image © Richard Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race]