Blair Tuke is on his way back to New Zealand

The Kerikeri sailor departs Hong Kong sitting on top of the Volvo Ocean Race with his team MAPFRE as he heads towards the sailing Triple Crown.

Leg six started this morning with MAPFRE on top of the leaderboard after winning the Dongfeng In-Port Race in Guangzhou, China.

The teams now head towards Auckland and are expected to arrive around February 24.


Tuke, a trimmer and helmsman on MAPFRE underneath skipper Xabi Fernandez, has the opportunity to make history after a successful two-year period on various boats.

On form it would take a monumental effort from the remaining fleet to haul in MAPFRE, who sit five points clear of Dongfeng Team Racing.

MAPFRE have yet to finish worse than second across the first five legs, winning two of them.

Tuke said he was relishing the chance to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.

"It's cool to be outside the comfort zone," he said.

"I've been enjoying being with the team. The majority of the team is Spanish so being with a different culture has been really cool.

"We've got a lot of experienced people so I'm learning every day. We've got a great shore crew too and we try to have a good time.

"It's a real endurance battle and to have the opportunity to do it is really cool," Tuke told CNN.

"It would have been nice to have had a little bit more time off after the last 12 months, but I couldn't let this opportunity go."

Meanwhile, rivals Vestas 11th Hour Racing's yacht will be unable to sail from Hong Kong to Auckland this month and will instead be brought down on a freight vessel to undergo repairs.

Despite being forced to retire after a crash in Hong Kong that saw a fisherman on the non-racing vessel die in hospital, Vestas 11th Hour Racing were third in the standings after four legs had been completed.

Their hopes of winning the event wouldn't be completely blown by skipping the sixth leg, though they will now face a massive task through legs seven to 11.

Andy and Alex Maloney picked up silver medals in the meantime at the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta at Murray Bays Sailing Club.

Andy Maloney was beaten by America's Cup teammate Josh Junior in the Finn class.

Junior got out to a hot start, winning three of the first five races, making it tough for Maloney to put himself in contention for the gold medal.

Maloney did what he could, winning two of the final three races but Junior did well enough to clinch the title by three points.

Meanwhile Alex Maloney and Molly Meech comfortably finished second in the 49erFX class but were no match for Norwegian duo Helene Naess and Marie Ronningen.

Naess and Ronningen won six of the eight races (Maloney and Meech won the other two) to romp home to a five-point victory.