SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race
Aerials - Cape Finisterre - Team SCA set the pace in 30 knots of wind
At 1240 UTC on Tuesday, they maintained a lead of 8.2 nautical miles (nm) with just under 380nm of the stage still to negotiate.
"It's blowing a solid 30 knots in four-metre waves, it's on the edge. We haven't seen proper upwind sailing like this so far in the race," said Volvo Ocean Race official meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante.
Team SCA's navigator, Libby Greenhalgh (GBR), told Inside Track on Tuesday that the wind and sea state were delaying their planned tack back towards the French coast as they approach Brittany in 24 hours.
On Tuesday, they were the first boat to reach the Bay of Biscay to the west of the main pack.So far, the female crew have improved leg on leg since the race start in October, but have not posted a result better than sixth in any of them.
Behind the first all-women's crew to enter offshore sailing's toughest challenge since 2001-02, is another boat for which a podium finish would be a dream result: Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS).The blue boat was a near write-off after a collision with a reef in the Indian Ocean last November during Leg 2, yet an incredible effort and near total re-build restored the crew to the eighth stage start line in Lisbon.
Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet face a dilemma: whether to follow Team SCA and Team Vestas Wind's course further offshore, or hug the Spanish/French shorelines, where the winds may be stronger.
Behind the leading two, there is so much to play for. Currently, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) are third and, crucially, ahead of the two boats closest to them in the standings, Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA).
MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) did much of their pre-race training in the Atlantic and are also right in the hunt in this intriguing, short leg.
The boats are currently estimated to arrive in Lorient on Thursday (June 11) between 0200-0400 UTC. They will have a short maintenance period before setting off for the climax of the nine-month, 38,739nm marathon the following Tuesday, June 16.
RANKING AT 1240 UTC
1. Team SCA - 379nm to Lorient
2. Team Vestas Wind - 8.2nm to the leader
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - 12.9nm to the leader
4. MAPFRE - 13.6nm to the leader
5. Team Brunel - 13.8nm to the leader
6. Team Alvimedica - 15.2nm to the leader
7. Dongfeng Race Team - 16.7nm to the leader