Auckland - Groupama overcame a massive leak to win leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday and take the provisional overall lead.
The French boat had dominated the 5 220-nautical mile stage from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand but their comfortable victory margin was put under threat just eight hours from the finish of the 19-day leg as water started to leak into the bow.
The crew pumped out the water, which filled two-thirds of the bow and threatened to sink the boat before the source of the leak was found and sealed.
The 30 points gained for winning the leg took Groupama to 103 points overall and into the provisional lead before overall pace-setters Telefonica (101) and the rest of the fleet finish the leg starting at about 22:00 SA time.
PUMA narrowly held second place in the leg ahead of Spanish boat Telefonica which had won the first three legs of the 2011/12 edition. Team New Zealand aboard Camper were also in contention for a top three place with Abu Dhabi and Team Sanya bringing up the rear.
The nine-month, 39-nautical mile race visits 10 ports in as many countries, four oceans and five continents and is scheduled to finish in Galway, Ireland on July 8.