They may be teammates in America's Cup and Olympic sailing, but for Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, the Volvo Ocean Race is a different environment.

And after some tactical late-night sailing, Burling and Team Brunel got the better of Tuke's MAPFRE.

Speaking from the boat, Burling explained Brunel and MAPFRE had battled late into the night on Tuesday trying to gain a positional advantage.

The fleet were currently headed from Hong Kong to Auckland and were coming up on the doldrums as they got closer to the equator. In this leg, getting the best position to sail through the area known for slow sailing can go a long way in the final result.

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"We had a good bit of fun last night," Burling said. "We kind of got stuck about a boat length behind MAPFRE and they didn't seem to want to let us go over the top.

"We had a good little battle there for about half an hour where we were trying to get over the top or underneath and eventually we managed to get over the top, so it was good."

Read more: In his dad's wake: James Blake's journey around the world

Just after lunchtime on Wednesday, Brunel had a loose grip on third place, sitting about two kilometres ahead of DongFeng Race Team and MAPFRE. AzkoNobel, which included Kiwis Brad Farrand and Justin Ferris, had sailed out to a lead of 12 nautical miles (22km) to lead the fleet, with Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag in second place - almost 100km ahead of Brunel.

Turn the Tide on Plastic were at the back end of the fleet, 135km off the leader, with plenty of sailing left in the leg.

While AzkoNobel were leading the pack, watch captain Chris Nicholson knew a lot could still happen before the fleet reached Auckland. "There's plenty of weather between here and New Zealand," he said. "The main one coming up is the doldrums."

The fleet are still likely a few days from reaching the doldrums, with the effect generally kicking in just north of the equator.

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