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MAPFRE leads Volvo Fleet out of Melbourne

MAPFRE leads Volvo Fleet out of Melbourne immediately after the start for Leg 4 to Hong Kong.

Overall Volvo Ocean Race leader MAPFRE was at the head of the fleet off the starting line as the boats raced up Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay immediately after the start for Leg 4 to Hong Kong.

But it was a very close run affair, and four hours after the start, it was Vestas 11th Hour Racing leading the charge, with the Spanish boat close behind in second place and Team Brunel a tight third.

Shortly after the leg start, the wind increased from 10 to near 20 knots with MAPFRE leading Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Team Brunel, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Dongfeng Race Team out towards the right hand side.

Meanwhile, team AkzoNobel and SHK/Scallywag split hard from the others towards the left. Early indications showed a slight advantage to MAPFRE with skipper Xabi Fernández initially in a favourable position after tacking back towards the turning mark near Mornington.

But Scallywag and Vestas 11th Hour Racing had soon joined the battle for the lead.

The Scallywags fell back at the turning mark however, leaving Vestas 11 Hour Racing, MAPFRE and Team Brunel neck and neck at the front.

Libby Greenhalgh on Scallywag - Click image for a larger image

Dongfeng, recovering well after completing a penalty turn on the start line, were in fourth place.

For Vestas 11th Hour Racing it makes for an ideal start for new skipper Mark Towill, who has stepped into the role as a replacement on Leg 4 for Charlie Enright, who returned home to tend to a family medical emergency.

For Towill and crew, the winners of Leg 1, this is an opportunity to put some pressure on race leader MAPFRE.

Volvo Ocean race - Leg 4 - Tuesday 02 January @ 22:30 UTC

1. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag -- distance to finish -- 5,290 nautical miles
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing +2.3 nm
3. MAPFRE +2.9 nm
4. team AkzoNobel +4.2 nm
5. Team Brunel +4.2 nm
6. Dongfeng Race Team +4.9 nm
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic +5.3 nm

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