A fast and furious start to leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race has provided a rough introduction to the realities of ocean racing for many of the Kiwi first-timers in the fleet.

The relentless fire hose conditions that greeted the fleet as they set off from Lisbon eased slightly yesterday and now the war stories are emerging.

Stunning on-board footage aboard Team Brunel shows the boat, with America's Cup-winning helmsman Peter Burling at the wheel, getting hammered by waves in the heavy 4m ocean swell.

The race's official Facebook page later featured the cheeky post "Welcome to the Volvo Ocean Race, Peter Burling - you're not in Bermuda now", referring to the mostly pristine turquoise waters of the Great Sound where Burling steered Team New Zealand to victory in June.

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Aboard Dee Caffari's Turn the Tide on Plastic, Kiwi sailor Bianca Cook had a scare when a big wave threw her off the stack and into the cockpit. Fortunately Cook was clipped in, but there was so much water her personal flotation device inflated, trapping her in the cockpit. With Cook tethered in place, hundreds of litres of water swamped over her before she was able to be freed by a teammate.

"I just went to windward to try to get the halyard tied off and sat in front of the winch to try and clear it, and just as I was doing that the wave came and took me out, but I was clipped on mum, don't worry," Cook explained.

After the frightening start, the fleet was yesterday settling into a groove, with navigators and skippers already facing the first of many critical decisions on this race from Lisbon to Cape Town.

The official race tracker put Dongfeng Race Team in the lead, followed by Spanish team Mapfre, featuring Blair Tuke, and Scallywag in third as the fleet passed Madeira.

But at this point in leg two the tracker rankings do not account for tactical positioning.

Dutch team AkzoNobel have made a break from the fleet, sailing further to the west in order to set up their approach to the Doldrums.