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Volvo Ocean Race fleet start epic Southern Ocean leg

 
It was a spectacular start to Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Sunday afternoon, as the fleet left Auckland in perfect conditions.

It was MAPFRE, the overall race leader, who made the best start to lead the fleet around a loop of the Waitemata Harbour and out into the Hauraki Gulf.

With Dongfeng, Team Brunel and Turn the Tide on Plastic in close and giving chase.

The teams are getting straight into it – after leaving the final turning mark, the forecast is for an upwind slog into a 30-knot easterly as they aim to clear the Coromandel Peninsula and then the East Cape of New Zealand.

They will then turn south in search of the low pressure systems that will power them towards Cape Horn, some 11 days away.

Positions Sunday 23:15 UTC - Click image for a larger image

The tracker chart above shows the fleet leaving the Bay of Plenty and approaching the final headland of New Zealand.

The initial Ice Exclusion Zone will allow the teams to sail as far south as 59-degrees south latitude, well into the ‘Furious Fifties’, where wind and waves circle the planet unimpeded by land, allowing them to build to fearsome levels.

It will be very cold that far south, and the routing will take the fleet to the most remote part of the world, Point Nemo, where the international space station is closer than any point of land.

The choice to go into Stealth mode has been cancelled for this leg, and hopefully for the rest of the race.

The initial ETA for the finish in Itajaí, Brazil is between April 4th and 6th.

Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 7 - Sunday 18 March @ 23:15 UTC

1. MAPFRE -- distance to finish -- 6,437 nautical miles
2. Dongfeng Race Team + 0.9 nm
3. team AkzoNobel + 1.5 nm
4. Turn the Tide on Plastic + 1.9 nm
5. Team Brunel + 2.5 nm
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing + 4.6 nm
7. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag + 4.8 nm

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