Team New Zealand have made a solid start on the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race sitting in third place in a tightly bunched leading pack.

After holding a slender lead on Sunday night Camper slipped back to second place in light conditions yesterday morning.

By late last night they had dropped a further place to third, but with less than 2 nautical miles separating the Kiwi boat from leaders Puma and second-placed Groupama, more movement is expected overnight.

Despite sitting in third, Chris Nicholson believes his team are in a strong position to windward of Puma.


"It's a bit of a case of snakes and ladders at the moment and although Puma have got a paper advantage over us currently I think we're in a strong position being upwind of them," he said.

Overall race leader Team Telefonica had a tough first night at sea after damaging a key sail just a few hours after the restart of leg 3, which was split into two parts as part of anti-piracy measures.

Iker Martinez's team were neck and neck with their rivals following the restart from Male in the Maldives when a fitting on their code zero headsail failed, forcing the crew into a scramble to retrieve the largest sail in their inventory as it flogged dangerously behind the boat.

Once on the deck the vast sail was quickly hauled below for sailmakers Jordi Calafat and Zane Gills to assess and begin to repair.

Telefonica are so far unbeaten in the offshore legs of the race and top the race leaderboard with 71 points, but the early setback dropped them into last place. By late last night they had made up good ground to sit in fourth place.

Camper made light work dodging the atolls and other obstacles around the Maldives and are now well into the north-east tradewinds drag race across the Indian Ocean to the Malacca Strait that is likely to take a few days.

Nicholson said he was pleased with the performance of his team on their first night at sea in nearly a month.

"We had a nice start and since then things have been going pretty smoothly. Our crew work has been good and overall I'm pretty happy with where we're sitting."