The Abu Dhabi team led the Volvo Ocean Race fleet out of Cape Town and into an overnight upwind battering as Leg 2 to Abu Dhabi began in earnest.
At the final mark of the inshore course, Abu Dhabi had a lead of 92 seconds over second placed Team New Zealand boat Camper.
Puma were third round the last mark followed by the Groupama sailing team, Team Sanya and Team Telefónica.
The fleet then headed out into the open ocean, where they will face potentially boat-breaking conditions within the first 20 hours.
The Camper skipper Chris Nicholson says that the team is focused and ready to make the most of the complex but potentially rewarding conditions.
The boats now settle into two weeks of ocean racing with arrival at the undisclosed location of 'Point A' not expected until late December.
The route has been redrawn for the second leg because of the threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean, with the teams due to make for an undisclosed safe haven port and then be transported by heavy lift ship to a position off the Sharjah coastline in the northern Emirates.
From there they will sprint in to Abu Dhabi for the finish.