The wild Southern Ocean hasn't slowed down Peter Burling's Team Brunel as the led the Volvo Ocean race fleet over the halfway point in leg seven.

The vessels set out on the leg from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil, a little more than a week ago and while they were still 3385 nautical miles (6269km) from their destination, Brunel were in a handy position.

It's been a case of jibing, jibing and more jibing over the past few days, and the yellow boat had made the best of the situation.

The majority of the fleet had a quality start to the leg, racing out of Auckland at about 20 knots. However Brunel found themselves with the upper hand after taking a lower route to many of the other boats.


They lead Vestas 11th Hour Racing in second place by just over 27 nautical miles, while DongFeng Race Team were in third.

Burling's Olympic teammate Blair Tuke's MAPFRE had fallen a touch of the pace and were sitting back in fifth behind Bianca Cook's Turn the tide on Plastic.

MAPFRE were the first boat out of Auckland and maintained a slim lead through the opening week of the leg but had fallen to fifth at the halfway point.

With half the leg still to race, the contest was tight from Brunel in first through to AkzoNobel in sixth. The only vessel needing to make up ground soon was Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag. The only team without a Kiwi on board, they struggled in their start out of Auckland and haven't been able to catch up since.

At the halfway point, they were about 182 nautical miles (338km) off the leaders in one of the competition's most important legs.

The race from Auckland to Itajai was a double-points leg, meaning the winner walks away with 14. There was also a bonus point on offer for the first team to reach Itajai.