Cyclone Pam forces organisers to delay Volvo Ocean Race stage

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team led the race going into the 6,776-nautical mile fifth leg

Winds of up to 125mph caused by Cyclone Pam have delayed the start of the Volvo Ocean Race's fifth leg in New Zealand.

The nine-month round-the-world yacht race was scheduled to leave Auckland for Itajai, Brazil on Sunday.

The winds, forecastexternal-link for the Pacific this weekend, mean the six-strong fleet will not depart before 01:00GMT Monday.

"We're making this decision now because we don't know the exact track of this tropical cyclone yet," said Volvo Ocean Race boss Knut Frostad.

"It's unusually big and essentially it's blocking the road for our sailors, so it's prudent seamanship from our side to leave them with options."

The severe winds and heavy rainfall are likely to to hit parts of New Zealand's North Island on Monday and Tuesday.

The Volvo Ocean Race is staged over nine legs and is poised to finish on 27 June in Gothenburg, Sweden.

It has already lost one boat, Team Vestas Wind, which ran into an Indian Ocean reef during the second leg.

Volvo Ocean Race leaderboard
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 8pts; 2. Dongfeng Race Team (China) 8; 3. Team Brunel 14; 4. Team Alvimedica (U.S./Turkey) 16; 5. MAPFRE (Spain) 16; 6. Team SCA (Sweden) 24; 7. Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 28

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