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Published: Wednesday, 14 January 2015

After 10 days at sea, Dongfeng Race Team is still leading the fleet. There are only about 10 more days to go - 2,414 nautical miles to Sanya, China. If the team wins this leg it will take the outright lead going into the fourth leg to Auckland.

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(Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

"Winning this leg could be more important than winning this project overall," says Skipper Charles Caudrelier as Dongfeng sailed away from Abu Dhabi with high hopes. 

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The first night Dongfeng hits two fishing nets but the issue was quickly resolved. Heading towards Sanya, the team was making good ground, holding a tenuous lead over Abu Dhabi. 

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Dubbed the “driftathon” the first few days were an intense, tactical battle in light winds. Constant gybing and tacking out of the Strait of Hormuz along the Iranian coast in unstable winds made for a tiring start.

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Day 4 Do​ngfeng w​as lead​ing the ​fleet by​ 17nm w​ith 4,16​0 miles ​to go. A​ good st​art, not​ that an​yone par​ticularl​y wants ​to admit​ it at t​his stag​e for fe​ar of ji​nxing th​e situat​ion.

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A sad day for France as the Charlie Hebdo attack shocked the world. This day was less about racing and more about solidarity as the French sailors were given the news.

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Not a wave in sight. The boys struggle with light conditions – this period was described by Eric Peron as “perfect sailing conditions, except we’re here to race”.

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Caudrelier refuses to stray from his chart screen for more than five minutes at a time. He stares into the screen with an intensity that could move a small island. But for all his efforts Sri Lanka stays put, and he still can’t decide which side to pass.

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A stressful moment for the team as it steams along at 16 knots waiting to hit the wind shadow. Caudrelier chose to cut the corner of Sri Lanka, a make or break moment for the team.

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Liu Xue (Black) shows us the not-so-glamorous side of sailing as the skin peels off his palms. The team hits the Sri Lanka wind shadow and panic sets in as Caudrelier describes the decision to cut the corner as a “silly, stupid mistake”.

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(All remaining photos: Sam Greenfield / Dongfeng Race Team)

Day 10 - the team comes through the wind shadow in no time at all and now has a 32nm lead on the fleet. It seems Caudrelier made the right decision after all.

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