Martin Kirketerp drenched aboard Sanya – AndrŽs Soriano pic
Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand leads the Volvo Ocean Race fleet across the Southern Ocean as Mike Sanderson turns Sanya round and heads back up the track towards New Zealand after the starboard rudder sheared earlier today.

Sanya is expected to take between four and five days to reach New Zealand and they continue to assess their options in terms of how to get back in the race as quickly as possible.

"It’s unbelievable, I’m just lost for words,” Sanderson said shortly after making an assessment of the broken rudder, which also tore a hole in the back of the boat flooding the aft compartment.

"The rudder snapped in between the boat and the deck, which is just the worst thing that can happen, because then it just leverages itself off the boat and leaves a pretty messy trail,” he said.

While Sanya limps away, at the head of the field, Camper (Chris Nicholson/AUS) has overhauled Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) as the fleet runs downwind with a violent westerly depression, which is tracking slowly eastwards.

The depression packs very strong, very violent and very cold winds from the Deep South and the weather is likely to be at its worst when the fleet reaches the western ice limit, 238 nautical miles ahead.

Aboard the French boat, skipper Franck Cammas and his men have reduced sail to one reef in the main and a small storm gennaker.

"We’re still a long way from the matter in hand and once we have 40-45 knots of breeze, the sea state will be all important. We will then have two reefs in the mainsail and the storm jib,” skipper Franck Cammas said. He said the whole crew was tense, wondering how the boat will cope in the very strong conditions expected between today and Saturday.

At 1900 UTC tonight, Camper led Groupama by 4.2nm, with Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg (Ken Read) in third place, 18nm off the lead. Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), in fourth, was averaging the highest speed of 24 knots, chasing the leader 36nm miles ahead.

In sixth place, Ian Walker’s crew on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are at 42 degrees south and just under 300nm in deficit. They have accepted that it is going to be hard for them to catch the leaders, and are setting their own goals, working hard to maintain the intensity required to sail the boat fast.

"No longer will motivation be provided by the three-hourly position reports that help us judge how we are doing against the other teams. These will be meaningless with no boats in the near vicinity, or in similar wind,” Ian Walker recognised.

The next five days promise extreme conditions, leading almost to survival mode for the crews as they race towards the notorious Cape Horn.

"At the moment, we’re trying to go as fast as we can, but we’re not fussed about the positions, we’re just trying not to break anything. The Southern Ocean is quite a serious place really,” Tom Addis, Puma’s Australian navigator said as the four leading boats headed into the back of the low pressure.

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