Sweden's Ericsson 4 held a slim lead over the U.S. entry Puma Ocean Racing on Oct. 29 as the yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race around the world headed at a fast pace for the first stop in Cape Town, South Africa.
A low pressure system and strong winds of 40 knots put the eight 70-foot (21.5-metre) boats to the test.
"We'll have to see if we can keep up this pace," said Ian Walker, skipper of the Sino-Irish entry Green Dragon, which was in third place followed closely by Spain's two Telefonica yachts.
The yachts left the Spanish Mediterranean port of Alicante Oct. 11. They should reach Cape Town on November 3 at the end of the first leg.
The finish line in the race of 37,000 nautical miles is in St Petersburg, Russia, which the teams should reach in June 2009.
Each of the yachts receives points according to ts position in each of the 10 legs. Half points are also awarded at six scoring gates along the route and for the seven 'in-port' races.
Positions at the time of reporting:
1. Ericsson 4 (SWE)/Torben Grael (BRA) 2,292 miles from Cape Town
2. Puma Racing (USA)/Ken Read (USA) 2 miles behind
3. Green Dragon (IRL-CHN)/Ian Walker (ENG) 41 miles
4. Telefonica Black (ESP)/Fernando Echavarri (ESP) 44 miles
5. Telefonica Blue (ESP)/Bouwe Bekking (NED) 47 miles
6. Ericsson 3 (SWE)/Anders Lewander (SWE) 58 miles
7. Delta Lloyd (NED)/Ger O'Rourke (IRL) 117 miles
8. Team Russia (RUS)/Andreas Hannakamp (AUT) 186 miles