Miami - Volvo Ocean Race challengers Camper were forced to abandon their position to the south of the fleet on Wednesday and take an expensive hit that could prove to a major blow to their overall victory hopes.
Navigator Will Oxley made the call to change strategy after analyzing weather data with skipper Chris Nicholson and deciding their gamble to stay at the bottom of the fleet had no chance of paying off.
Within three hours, they had slipped to the back of the pack, more than 80 nautical miles behind seventh-leg leaders Groupama and Telefonica.
With around eight days to go in the Miami to Lisbon voyage, they still have hopes of catching up but the latest position report was a sorry sight for the Team New Zealand sailors who crew the Camper boat.
"The weather is not exactly as forecasted and we've had to take quite a big loss to get back into the weather system we need," helmsman Tony Rae said.
"It's something we'll have to chip away at but there's a long way to go yet, over 2,500 miles, so we're really trying to set ourselves up for the next few days and see we'll see what happens."
Far to the East, Groupama and Telefonica were hull to hull as they led the fleet across the Atlantic Ocean.
Spain's Telefonica lead France's Groupama by seven points in the overall standings with US boat Puma and Camper also within striking distance at 13 and 14 points adrift.
After the current leg, teams will sail to Lorient in France before the finish in Galway, Ireland in July.
1. Telefonica (Spain) 165 points, 2. Groupama (France) 158, 3. Camper (Spain/New Zealand) 152, 4. Puma (USA) 151, 5. Abu Dhabi (UAE) 74, 6. Team Sanya (China) 27.