Dongfeng Race Team is back to life inside the salty washing machine as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet hammer along in reaching conditions with 20-25 knots of breeze, about 800 miles due north of New Ireland in Papua New Guinea.
Despite the conditions and the fact that our red counterparts - MAPFRE - are keeping Dongfeng fighting tooth and nail, with the two crews still in sight of each other, recent photos and blogs show spirits are high on board the Chinese red and white Volvo Ocean 65.
At this stage on their eighth day at sea, the hunt is on for new leg leaders, Team AkzoNobel, who have increased their advantage by a handful of miles after encountering the increased breeze first, 25 miles to leeward and 53 miles ahead of Dongfeng.
Most worrying of all is that Jules Salter, the taciturn British navigator on Akzo – a man famous for giving nothing away – has been seen smiling on board the Dutch boat. This is most unusual. But he knows that, as the fleet begins to cross the Doldrums in the next 24-36 hours, there is the potential for a re-start as the fleet compresses in light northerlies.
The last chapter of this leg is currently looking far from straightforward with Cyclone Gita disturbing the trade winds that are normally expected in the Southern Hemisphere, between the Doldrums and New Zealand.
This weather system could throw a huge spanner in the works, requiring the fleet to sail a greater number of miles to get through the light winds in its wake, in an effort to arrive first into Auckland.