A major change of character is in store for the Volvo Race during the fourth leg, from Wellington to Rio de Janeiro, which starts today. Once round Cape Horn, 350 extra miles away as the boats are kept north of potential ice danger, the Southern Ocean is left behind and lighter, Atlantic conditions prevail.
There could still be some fast and furious stuff, there could be more boat breakdowns, but there is a distinct change of mood around the dock after Mike Sanderson's ABN Amro 1 was finally beaten into second place. His heavy-air advantage could have only 10 days to run.
The British skipper Neal McDonald's Ericsson finally finished leg three from Melbourne yesterday afternoon having cleverly suspended racing just before the finish on Thursday, when they were last of the six boats. That allowed them to bypass pit-stop rules which forbid the use of shore crew for repairs, and maintenance except with a time penalty.
The Spanish yacht movistar will have to wait those extra two hours before crossing the start line today after hauling the yacht out for extensive work to a broken keel ram wedge and other delamination when a dagger- board fairing ripped off.