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VOR: Brunel and Dongfeng match racing to the Leg 7 finish at Itajaí

ITAJAÍ, BRAZIL – The Volvo Ocean Race racetracker is now live – by rule, it goes live when the lead yacht is within 24 hours of the finish, instead of updated every six hours as it is during the race. The rule that allowed yachts to go into '"stealth mode" for 18 hours (VOR's version of Harry Potter's "invisibility cloak") was eliminated during the Auckland stopover.

Regardless, you can now watch the match race between Brunel and Dongfeng in their final 17 hours or so of Leg 7. Only 5.5nm separate the two yachts as we post this, with approx 320nm to the finish. A few minutes ago when your Ed. took this screengrab it was 1408 local time in Itajaí (1008 PDT), so they should finish in the early daylight of Tuesday morning, approx 0700 hours local. Sunrise tomorrow morn is 0625 local.

It's looking like AkzoNobel will finish third, Turn the Tide on Plastic fourth, and MAPFRE fifth – though one supposes there is a chance they could catch and pass TTOP if it gets light and shifterly on the final approach. MAPFRE also looks to be taking a route closer to shore, so we shall see if that pays off.

Despite it having been obvious for several days now, Vestas and SHKS are finally listed as RET for "retired." The Vestas team's Facebook page were reporting yesterday that team director Mark Towill (USA) and skipper Charlie Enright (USA) were en route to Itajaí to continue to work on the logistics to get the boat ready for Leg 8 to Newport, RI that begins on April 22nd. Apparently the remainder of the crew remain in the Falklands to sort out how to get the yacht to Itajaí. Nothing official yet on how that is to happen, but all indications are that SI's prediction of now three days ago that they would motor on their own bottom, at least a good bit of the way, was correct.

UPDATE 1124 PDT – A few minutes ago Vestas posted to their team's Facebook page that they had indeed motored north out of the Falklands, but had to return "a few short hours later leaving Stanley Harbour" because of a "mechanical issue."

Post a few minutes ago to the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Facebook page.

SHK/Scallywag, after the tragic loss overboard of John Fisher (GBR) a week ago, has still not reached the Chilean coast. They appear to have been averaging only 7 knots. Either they are motoring, or are under some sort of jury rig, or both.

Below is today's VOR VNR (video news release) with raw footage off the five yachts still racing, courtesy of VOR media.

Today's (April 2nd) Volvo Ocean Race VNR released an hour or so ago.

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