Overall Volvo Ocean Race leaders Telefonica were right on the shoulders of Puma and Camper on Wednesday, with less than seven nautical miles between the top three in a leg that has turned into two distinct battles.
The Spanish team's average speed of 20.5 knots at 1300 GMT on Wednesday was faster than their two main rivals and enough to give Australian navigator Andrew Cape cause for real confidence heading into the final week of Leg 6 form Itajai in Brazil to Miami, the only north American stopover in the round-the-world race.
"It's not like we have a 100-mile lead but we're right up there with the leading pack and feeling very good about our chances," said Cape. "The wind is going to get light at the end anyway so it could get pretty random."
American team Puma have led since the start of the leg 11 days ago but by Wednesday their advantage over second-placed Camper was just three miles, with Telefonica 3.6 nm further back.
Around 100 nm to the rear, Groupama, the French team who are second overall, managed to overtake Abu Dhabi for fourth place.
"The race is turning into two great battles," said Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. "Behind the top three Groupama and ourselves are neck and neck."
Walker's team are among those hoping the current estimated time of arrival in Miami of May 9 does not slip any further. Abu Dhabi have already instituted rationing of food for the final week, with the current supply set to run out as early as Monday.
Overall standings: 1 TelefÃ³nica (ESP) 149 points, 2 Groupama (FRA) 133, 3 Camper (NZL/ESP) 124, 4 Puma (USA) 117, 5 Abu Dhabi (UAE) 58, 6 Team Sanya (ChN) 25