China hopes hang by thread as Volvo Ocean Race pack closes

SANYA, China (AP) Dongfeng Race Team's hopes of becoming the first Chinese entry to win a leg in the Volvo Ocean Race were hanging by a thread Sunday.

The team has been leading through most of the 4,760-nautical mile third leg, from Abu Dhabi to its home port of Sanya, in the nine-month round-the-world race that is generally considered the sport's toughest offshore challenge.

In a message from the boat, Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier, 40, says: ''This has been the most physically demanding part of the leg, I'm a bit stressed.''

Over the past 24 hours, the crew has seen an advantage, which at one stage was more than 100 nautical miles, whittled away to just 9.6 nautical miles as the boats sailed away from the Vietnam coast in the South China Sea.

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