After working their way into a handy lead on leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race, Team New Zealand have just as quickly been deposed with Team Telefonica yesterday seizing control.

Telefonica, from Spain, was the big mover on the fifth day of sailing, mowing down the fleet to advance from fourth place to first.

Coming from the favourable position in the north, Telefonica were at stages travelling two knots faster than the rest of the fleet and one by one they picked off their rivals.

By night they were closing in on Emirates Team New Zealand, which had led the fleet for almost 24 hours.


The Camper boat had taken the lead from Puma in the previous night and worked hard in vain to stem the Telefonica advance.

"We were trying to get over to the Indonesian shore as fast as possible and take a right hand shift. Telefonica's leverage would have been hard for them to use if we had managed that," said Camper skipper Chris Nicholson.

The latest position report had Camper in second place, 2.7 nautical miles behind the Telefonica crew. Puma is in third a further 2 nautical miles back, with Groupama fourth, Abu Dhabi fifth and Team Sanya last in the race to their home stopover, in the Hainan Province of China.

With the Malacca Strait less than 12 hours sailing away, the fleet faces the prospect of another shakeup.

The yachts must thread their way through the 500 nautical miles of congested, narrow and hazardous water before they pass Singapore and emerge in the South China Sea and set course for the next stopover port, Sanya.