SHK/Scallywag battles the elements to hold lead

Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag were showing no signs of relinquishing their grip on the Leg 4 lead on Tuesday as they geared up to break the 1,000-miles-to-go barrier.

Hell-bent on arriving in their home port of Hong Kong as heroes, the Scallywag crew has maintained their comfortable lead of 73 miles over closest rivals Vestas 11th Hour Racing as the action reaches fever pitch.

The seven international teams celebrated two weeks at sea since leaving Melbourne with optimal conditions – the north-easterly trade winds continue to fire them towards the finish.

At 1300 UTC Scallywag was rocketing along at more than 20 knots, more than two knots quicker than any other team aside from team AkzoNobel in fourth, some 103 miles back.

In fact the only team not to lose miles to Scallywag in the six hours leading up to the position report was third-placed Dongfeng Race Team, who managed to claw back half a mile.

Charles Caudrelier's men will have to pull something bigger out of the bag if they want to overhaul Scallywag at this stage of the race – however Vestas 11th Hour Racing, at 14 miles ahead, may present a more realistic target.

If Dongfeng can overhaul Vestas and finish second behind Scallywag, the significance of boats from Hong Kong and China atop the table at the first ever stopover in Hong Kong would be massive.

“It's a new experience for us but it's a good one,” Scallywag skipper Dave Witt said. “We've only got 1,300 miles to go, so we're looking ok. We're in a pretty strong position, and we're going to get further ahead at the moment. The weather pattern suits us but the others are going to fall out of it. I expect us to extend our lead.”

Witt revealed the main threat to their impending victory was not from the other crews but from the weather. His crew is currently facing head-on seas of up to four metres, with boat speeds of more than 20 knots.

“We've just got try not to break the boat,” he added. “Providing we can keep the boat in one piece we're going to have a nice lead going into Hong Kong. We're really looking forward to it.”

Another 70 miles behind the trio of teams desperately trying to hunt down Scallywag, Leg 2 and 3 winners MAPFRE were having to consolidate their fifth place, conscious of attack from Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Brunel in sixth and seventh.

While Scallywag makes the most of continuing breeze, winds at the back of the fleet are set to drop to around 14 knots, further hampering any hopes of catching up with the group in front.

The latest ETA predicts Scallywag will arrive early afternoon on Friday, UTC.

Leg 4 – Position Report – Tuesday 16 January (Day 15) – 13:00 UTC

Leg 4
Melbourne to Hong Kong
16 January 2018
Positions at: 13:00 UTC
1   SHKS 0.00 0.00 RAC 16.3 291º 26.0 70º 1278.74
2   VS11 73.39 3.71 RAC 19.6 284º 21.0 71º 1352.13
3   DFRT 87.37 0.51 RAC 17.1 295º 16.2 68º 1366.11
4   AKZO 103.89 0.87 RAC 20.8 296º 20.5 81º 1382.63
5   MAPF 176.07 9.35 RAC 20.9 304º 18.5 81º 1454.81
6   TTOP 208.18 3.37 RAC 16.2 300º 17.0 72º 1486.91
7   TBRU 218.39 3.77 RAC 18.1 304º 17.8 75º 1497.13


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