The Volvo Ocean Race fleet have been slammed with "wet, wild and fast" conditions as they charge southeast towards New Zealand.

Volvo Ocean Race reported that a wind shift on Sunday saw the boats gain up to 25 knots in "uncomfortable, but fast conditions".

On February 1, the boats left Hong Kong for the 11,297km journey to the New Zealand finish line.

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There is still more than 7408km of sailing before the fleet reaches Auckland Harbour and crew member of leading yacht MAPFRE, Blair Tuke, said "things have got gradually a little bit worse".

"Since the front hit it's been pretty full-on," said Tuke.

"To start with it was about as good sailing as you can get, 20 to 25 knots of breeze and flat, flat water.

"Sea state and water on deck, it's probably the most water I've ever seen."

Dee Caffari, from Turn the Tide on Plastic who are in fourth place, said although it was a great way to gain some miles, it had been very wet.

"There is water pouring down the deck, everyone is wet, everything is wet inside and out but no one is complaining as we all know this is short-lived and we will cover some serious miles while we are at it," Caffari said.

"And the water is warm, 19 degrees, matching the air temperature."

Reflecting differing tactical choices, the fleet remains largely in two groups, with Peter Burling's Team Brunel narrowly in second place.

The second group of boats, which consists of Team AkzoNobel and Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, chose to tack hard north immediately after passing the southern tip of Taiwan.

Scallywag navigator Libby Greenhalgh hopes their bold tactical decision, which saw them win the fourth leg of the race, will pay dividends once again.

"Long-term, we're trying to hook into the northerly breeze. In theory, we'll be into that first and be in a position to come bow down on top of the fleet," said Greenhalgh.