Miami - American skipper Ken Read's PUMA led their rivals across the Equator and into the northern hemisphere on Monday, clinging on to a narrow 25-nautical mile advantage in the sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race to their home country.
Hot on the heels of PUMA were Spanish team Telefnica, the overall race leaders, and Kiwi/Spanish crew Camper, both teams refusing to be shaken off during the 4 800 nautical mile leg from Brazil to Miami.
Around 60 nautical miles adrift, UAE's Abu Dhabi were struggling to match the speeds of the leaders while fifth-placed French crew Groupama slipped to around 125 miles behind.
The Equator crossing is the fourth and final time for the fleet since starting the round the world race from Alicante, Spain, in October 2011.
The teams must now take on the Doldrums, a band of unpredictable weather just north of the Equator.
The 39 000 nautical mile, nine-month race is scheduled to finish on July 7 in Galway, Ireland.
Overall standings: 1. Telefnica (Spain) 149 points, 2. Groupama (France) 133, 3. Camper (New Zealand/Spain) 124, 4. Puma (USA) 117, 5. Abu Dhabi (UAE) 58, 6. Team Sanya (China) 25