Unless they start notching some wins Team New Zealand's bid for around the world glory could be all over by the time they reach Auckland next month.

The Camper-sponsored entry took third place in leg three over the weekend, arriving in Sanya, China 3 hours behind Telefonica. French-flagged boat Groupama were second.

It was the third straight podium finish for Team New Zealand, who retained their second overall placing in the Volvo Ocean Race.

But main rivals Telefonica strengthened their position at the top of the standing after becoming the first team since Sir Peter Blake's Steinlager 2 in 1989-90 to win the first three legs of the Volvo Ocean Race.


Telefonica bagged the maximum 24 points for the truncated leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya to extend their overall lead to 15 points over Camper.

Groupama are a further nine points back.

Although third place is a respectable finish for Team New Zealand after an incredibly challenging leg, Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said the team could not be content with simply making the podium and it was vital they start winning legs.

"While it's another podium finish it's not the direction we want to be travelling in. We thought and expected to do better than third, to be honest," he said.

"It's a very long race and we're staying in touch with the leader but the reality is that we're not performing well enough and need to deliver a more consistent showing.

"It's time for a first and hopefully that will be the next one as we come into Auckland."

Team New Zealand were perhaps fortunate to salvage a third placing for the leg after a tactical blunder through the Malacca Strait saw them relegated to the rear of the fleet.

Nicholson said he was pleased with the grit his team showed to claw back some of the ground they lost through the disastrous passage. "At one stage in this leg we were fifth and I think we showed a lot of character within the team to fight back to third," he said.

"To grab that position is good and it's a positive for us to finish on. However, there's still a lot of thought required about how we can start winning legs.

"We now need to go away and look at our performance in the leg, review and debrief everything in detail, see what went well and what didn't and ensure that we come out absolutely firing for the next leg into Auckland," he said.

"Heading back home and to where it all started is going to be massive for us and we want to deliver the best result for all our supporters."

Telefonica's latest victory was remarkable given the damage they suffered to their code zero sail just hours after the re-start in the Maldives, a setback that pushed them into last place.

But after doing the repairs at sea the Spanish entry, skippered by Iker Martinez, systematically went about making up for lost time, mowing down the rest of the fleet in the space of six days.

Leg 3 results
1. Telefonica
2. Groupama
3. Camper with Team New Zealand
4. Puma
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
6. Team Sanya.