If you're like me, you've been entranced by the close racing, dramatic images coming back from the boats and are eager to see whether any team will be able to stretch out from the others in the fluky doldrums.
With only a couple of miles separating the leaders after four days of racing it's clear that the navigators and sailors have been rigorously chasing fractions of a knot of boat speed.
But pure performance isn't enough to win such a marathon leg, reliability counts just as much... the fastest way to lose miles to your competitor is to have a mechanical problem.
All the kinks in the boat's paths represent a gybe, and each maneuver stresses the tired arms of the sailors and their equipment that flaps each time the sailors whip it from one side of the boat to the other.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing saw a small tear on the leach (back edge) of their big downwind sail, damage that grew when the sailors furled the sail to drop it for repair.
Unfurl even a small portion of the 375 square meters A3 sail in the 35 square meter living space on the Volvo Ocean 65 and things are going to get complicated really quickly! Key challenges when repairing sails at sea? The persistent wet, salt and an extreme lack of space!
I worked in the North Sails loft in Vannes, France in 2014 and was part of the team that made the Volvo Ocean 65 sails. There, we had acres of space and dozens of powerful sewing machines that can lay down lines of stitching 30 metres long in just a few minutes.
The sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race have no such luxury. While sewing machines were carried onboard in the past, changing sail technology and elimination of normal spinnakers mean that all repairs are now done with glue and tape.
Step one is to dry and remove the salt with acetone. While it may seem strange to dry a sail by pouring liquid on it, acetone evaporates very quickly and cleans away the salt water.
Then, line up the torn fibres on each side of the tear, lay down some extremely strong double-sided tape and cover with a patch of new material that is spread with glue. Sailors use flexible epoxy glue that dries in mere minutes and can make the repair stronger than the original sail. Fancy adhesives aside, it's still a tough job when the boat is flying down waves at 20kts of speed.
Given that Vestas 11th Hour Racing is fighting for the lead, the team has done well to get the repair done and the sail back in the air. Now the off watch can look forward to sleeping instead of sail making, until next time.