Torben Grael looks set to make it a double. The skipper of Ericsson 4, the winner of leg one into Cape Town, is poised to repeat the feat later today, or overnight, in Cochin, India. On the 04:00 GMT report, Ericsson 4 was just 116 nautical miles from the finish line, and steaming along at 10 knots.

Volvo Ocean Race

“We are experiencing a little difference in wind from what was forecast, and for once it is in our favour,” wrote Guy Salter yesterday evening. “Flying along in flat water at 20 knots is a great feeling and these boats quickly remind you of just how aggressive they can be; even in five knots of wind we can see the speed get up to 10 knots. Now, in 17 knots of breeze, we are in the low 20s and high teens constantly. It’s easy to get complacent about how many miles these boats quickly eat up and spit out.

“What awaits us up the coast of India is anyone’s guess, and there is a chance that we will be playing close to the shore. If the predicted light winds appear then we will need the local land and sea breezes to get us to Cochin, hopefully in first place. We have put a lot of miles on the rest of the fleet in the past two days, but could easily see this all vanish under one cloud. In the last 20 hours our ETA has changed by more than two days, so as far as knowing when we will finish – that’s anyone’s guess.”

In the 12 hours or so since Guy wrote those words, the team has made nearly 150 miles towards the finish line, and their ETA is a little bit more solid at near midnight GMT or just before daybreak on Sunday local time. One should bear in mind that the forecast is for much lighter conditions on the final approach to Cochin, so that could still slip back a little. And as Guy wrote, the boats are so sensitive to wind speed, that should they get a nice little cell to sail in, they may still show up on Saturday evening in Cochin.

Behind, Telefonica Blue (where navigator Simon Fisher spoke about the surge to second place with Guy Swindells) has done a nice job of consolidating their grip on second place. Now 142 miles behind the leader, they have stretched to 144 miles ahead of third-placed Ericsson 3.

Close fight for finish points

And then it gets very interesting. Just eight miles separate Green Dragon, currently in fourth place, from Delta Lloyd, now in sixth. In between is PUMA. The boats are very close to each other, not just in distance to finish, but on the water, each is within sight of the others, making for stressful racing.

“Both Green Dragon and Puma are still within sight,” wrote Matt Gregory from Delta Lloyd overnight. “This is great racing. Having other boats to continuously gauge speed and performance against makes the hours tick by very quickly. We lament every boat length loss and revel in every gain.

“However, we aren’t just focused on the race with this group of boats, we are also racing the weather. We are at the very southern edge of a northward moving zone of fading breeze. In the wake of this area is complete calm. If we fall off the back of this wind area then we could be out here for a very long time. Right now we are sailing at 12 knots of boat speed in an equal amount of wind. Miles are once again ticking away on the odometer at a rapid pace, which helps to ease my worries about spending the next week out here.”

That’s not just alarmist rhetoric from the Delta Lloyd navigator. The wind is forecast to ease dramatically off the southwest coast of India in the next 24 to 36 hours, and anyone stuck behind the pressure line, could find themselves drifting towards Cochin for a long time.

That’s surely on the minds of the sailors on Telefonica Black and Team Russia. The Russians, in particular are much further south than the rest of the competition.

In Cochin, a race of another sort is underway. With the winner expected in a full three days ahead of the initial ETA, the finishing touches are being put on the Race Village to ensure this first visit by the Volvo Ocean Race to Asia is a success.

Volvo Ocean Race

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