By heading west instead of east, Gunnar Krantz and Swedish Match engineered a 51-mile lead in the first 24 hours of the 4,600-mile leg across the Southern Ocean to Australia.
Krantz's eight rivals were left hoping they can draw a lucky catch-up card. As Grant Dalton, the skipper of Merit Cup, said: "If we had tried to muck up the first six hours of the leg more than we have we would have struggled to achieve it."
First to follow Krantz was the first leg winner Paul Cayard in Sweden's EF Language, and these two could benefit from stronger breezes as the chasing pack back their strategy of taking the shorter, easterly route.
Sweeping changes to the 1999 Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup have been proposed by the Royal Ocean Racing Club. It is intended that the eight-race series will be brought forward to start on 12 July and completed within a fortnight, ahead of Cowes Week.
The Fastnet Race will be dropped and replaced with a 400-mile race round Wolf Rock. Teams will still comprise three boats, but the ILC 40 will be replaced by a one-design 40-footer. The number of professionals on each boat will be reduced to 50 per cent, thus reintroducing the element of amateurism.
WHITBREAD ROUND THE WORLD RACE (second leg, 4,600 miles, Cape Town to Fremantle): Latest positions: 1 Swedish Match (Swe) G Krantz 4,456 miles to finish; 2 EF Language (Swe) P Cayard 51 miles behind leader; 3 Silk Cut (GB) L Smith 67; 4 Chessie Racing (US) M Fischer 68; 5 Merit Cup (Monaco) G Dalton 73; 6 Toshiba (US) P Standbridge 87; 7 Innovation Kvaerner (Nor) K Frostad 90; 8 Brunel Sunergy (Neth) H Bouscholte 91; 9 EF Education (Swe) C Guillou 118.