It's been a torturous passage through a double doldrums effect for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, that has seem halting progress for most of the past five days.
Below decks the boat has been like an oven. On deck is only slightly better. Winds have been fickle and unpredictable under clouds, or non-existent elsewhere.
Fortunes have been made and lost with each puff of wind, adding to the psychological stress.
But now, just maybe, after a few false summits, it is all in the past.
The northeast tradewinds are kicking in. Bows are pointed towards the finish line. Speeds are increasing. And the forecast is for it only to improve from here.
"This boat feels about two tons lighter today with the unbearable weight of the Doldrums blown free from the deck by a perfect 10-knot easterly," is the way Amory Ross, the on board reporter on Vestas 11th Hour Racing described it. "It’s like another world, a world that is dare I say - survivable? I really don’t know how much more of that heat we could have taken without totally losing our minds."
At the 0700 UTC position report on Saturday morning, all seven boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet were making at least 10 knots of boatspeed, and all seven were beginning to point their bows more to the west - towards the finish in Hong Kong.
"We’re in 10-15 knot East to Northeast trade winds at the moment," team AkzoNobel navigator Jules Salter said overnight. "We’re 100nm away from the first of the Micronesian Islands, so we’ll have to thread our way through those. It depends on what kind of wind and cloud action we get as we go through there – still a lot of cloud around and big differences in wind speed so we’re very light at the moment, about10 knots, which is not so good, and hopefully we’ll get a bit more breeze later on today.”
Salter has positioned his team with current leader Dongfeng, furthest north of all boats in the fleet. Vestas 11th Hour Racing, to the southwest looks well positioned as well.
So too, at the moment, does SHK/Scallywag, whose gamble to cut the corner and turn west before anyone else may very well pay off. There is more pressure further north, and Scallywag is nearly 100 miles south of the leaders, but at the moment, boatspeed is good and that is reflected in the her second place position on the rankings. The next 24-48 hours will be critical.
"We finally really turned a corner and are heading to the finish, the miles are going down and the speed is going up and for us in a more than positive way as our westerly position is now paying off," writes navigator Libby Greenhalgh. "We took our cloud of doom early and made a huge loss having only just gained back on the fleet and now the tables have turned and we can feel their pain as after each sched they lose miles. There have been some absolute MONSTER clouds out here and we have been carefully monitoring the Sat pics to make sure we make the best job we can of weaving through them, but a lot of positioning was decided days before without you really realising. There are still more to come and the next 24 hours could still see some serious snakes and ladders."