The Volvo Ocean Race will resume on 18 March with the fifth leg through the Southern Ocean after a three-day delay caused by Cyclone Pam.

We see a significant change between leaving Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning in easier conditions and this was also the preference of the majority of the teams, Race CEO Knut Frostad said on Monday (16 March) after a meeting with the six teams skippers, navigators and weather experts.

The round-the-world event was forced to delay the anticipated Sunday departure for the six-strong fleet from Auckland because of the category five cyclone.

Cyclone Pam has built up winds of more than 250km an hour and has been described by meteorologists as the fiercest in the South Pacific for 40 years.

Race director Jack Lloyd said: Our focus now is to keep a 24 hour watch going so if anything happens to one of the boats – a dock line breaks or the marina itself where the boats are tied to – we have people here and the teams have people here that we can actually minimise the impact of that.

The nine-month race, which is staged over nine legs, covers 38,739nm and is due to finish on 27 June in Gothenburg, Sweden.

There are nine legs in all and the fifth, which takes the fleet through the treacherous Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn before finishing in Brazil, was already reckoned to be the toughest.