Chinese team stretch race lead


Alicante - Dongfeng Race Team's grip on leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race tightened further on Monday while their closest rivals in the overall standings slipped back.

The Chinese team's lead over second-placed Spanish boat, MAPFRE, had stretched to 106.3 nautical miles on Monday morning with Team Alvimedica (Turkey/US) 3 nautical miles further adrift in third.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Brunel, who were joint top with Dongfeng on four points apiece in the overall race standings at the start of the third leg, were fourth and fifth.

Victory in the 4 670 nautical mile leg from Abu Dhabi to Dongfeng's home port of Sanya in the southernmost point of China is however, not yet in the bag.

Stronger breezes

The six-strong fleet is now negotiating the hazard-strewn Malacca Strait, which separates the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Malaysia.

The 500 nautical mile long stretch of water is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world where huge tankers and dozens of fishing vessels compete for manoeuvring room.

To add to the challenges for the race navigators, the stretch is strewn with man-made debris and it is not unusual for boats to find discarded fridges and old washing machines blocking their path.

Additionally, the winds there are notoriously fickle and Dongfeng could yet be parked in zero wind while the rest of the chasing pack catch up in stronger breezes.

The nine-month, 38 739 nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race is held once every three years and visits 11 ports and every continent. It is generally accepted in sailing to be offshore sailing's most prestigious prize - and toughest to win.

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