Miami - American-led PUMA secured a small but crucial advantage on the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Thursday after swapping the overnight lead in the 4 500-nautical mile, leg six chase to their home shores.
A cold front hampered Ken Read's boat allowing Camper (Spain/New Zealand) and Abu Dhabi to pass her before welcome trade winds propelled them back to the front of the pack and by 13:00 GMT she led by more than seven miles.
Overall, there was little to split the fleet with around 70 miles separating PUMA from tail-enders Groupama who were uncharacteristically struggling to pick up the best of the breezes having won leg 4 and being denied a good chance of another victory in the next stage to Itajai in Brazil by a broken mast.
Telefonica skipper Iker Martnez, Spain's world sailor of the year, said the dilemma was how to get to the stronger gusts in the east while also making progress north towards the finish.
Timing this move just right would be critical, according to Martinez.
"Everyone wants to be the windward boat, everyone wants to be in the east, but that doesn't take you closer to the mark," he said.
"Choosing when to go north at the right time is going to be very key in the next few days."
The overall leaders were in fourth.
1 Team Telefonica (Spain) 149 points, 2 Groupama (France) 133, 3 Camper (NZ/Spain) 124, 4 PUMA (US) 117, 5 Abu Dhabi 58, 6 Team Sanya (China) 25