This leg offers the most varied conditions of the race. Teams will be tested mentally as well as physically as they adapt to a host of changing sailing and climatic conditions.
The fleet will head north and as crews reach the Equator, the breeze may drop. High levels of concentration will be needed, as every tweak will affect the boat speed and teams with strong light wind sailing skills will have an advantage.
The second Equator crossing will see the return of King Neptune and his initiation of more Shellbacks! Here, crews are likely to witness some spectacular storms, while passing squalls can offer much needed relief from the heat, but can also bring some heavy conditions with them. Continuing north, the wind will start to build as the fleet enters the Northeast Monsoon, where teams will be looking to pull away from the pack.
The fleet will enter the South China Sea, setting course for the golden sands of Sanya. Laying on the southern tip of Hainan Island, the tropical paradise of Sanya promises to give crew a taste of the ‘Hawaii of China’.
After a relaxing stay soaking up the culture it’s back on board for a race of extremes. It starts in tropical heat and light headwinds and then, as you track north, the weather turns colder, the winds come from directly ahead and the sea state kicks up to deliver a real challenge. Thermals are added to the layers of clothing and snow might be even make an appearance as you route east of Taiwan into the East China Sea and point towards the Olympic sailing city of Qingdao.
If you watched the Against the Tide series you will get an idea of the scale of the greeting laid on for your heroic arrival and, wherever you go, autograph hunters will be keen to add your signature to their book. One of the coldest and toughest parts of the race, ends with possibly the warmest welcome.