WATERSPORT NEWS - The deep low-pressure system that has been forming for the past few days has now engulfed the seven crews, forcing them to switch from all-out racing to a more conservative mode.
Nevertheless, boat speeds rocketed to an incredible 38 knots as the Volvo Ocean 65s were launched down the faces of enormous Southern Ocean rollers.
The low pressure system responsible for the hammering is vast, stretching almost 1,500 nautical miles from the tip of South Africa to just a few hundred miles north of Antarctica.
It represents the biggest challenge so far in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, and, although Leg 3 from Cape Town to Melbourne is still in its early stages, the decisions the teams make now could have serious consequences on the results.
At 1300 UTC Dongfeng Race Team continued to lead the fleet from their position furthest south, just seven miles above the Antarctic Ice Exclusion Zone (AIEZ) set by race control.
Ten miles to the north MAPFRE continued the chase, with Vestas 11th Hour Racing filing in around 50 miles behind them.
“Conditions are full on,” Vestas 11th Hour Racing helmsman Mark Towill said as the crew reported seeing gusts of 53 knots of wind overnight. “We've had 30 to 40 knots for 24 hours now – we're rocketing downwind. It's full on Southern Ocean conditions but good fun. We knew what we were coming down here to find, and we've definitely found it.”
Eighty miles behind MAPFRE, Simeon Tienpont's team Akzonobel were forced to hit the brakes after suffering damage to the track attaching the mainsail to the mast.