26 november, 2008

Ericsson 4 behåller ledningen mot Indien

Ericssons båda båtar i VOlvo Ocan Race känner flåset av de andra deltagarna, som ligger tätt efter ledarduon. Ericsson 4 leder alltjämt, 10 Nm före Ericsson 3. PUMAligger kvar på tredje plats, 15 Nm efter ledaren. Det kan bli en ganska dramatisk final på väg mot Indien. Båtarna har cirka 800 Nm kvar och seglar 10-12 knop. Med tanke på de stiltjebälten som lurar längs resten av vägen kan mycket hända och segern för Ericsson 4 är inte självklar.

ERICSSON 4 LEG TWO DAY 12 QFB: received 26.11.08 0519 GMT

Only 900 miles to go but it will be a painful and long ordeal, there will be some very happy and unhappy boats by the end of this leg as there will be plenty of luck involved over the next few days. Hopefully we can stay on the front row but sometimes you don’t have a say in these things.

This morning we watched Ericsson 3 come from 11 miles behind, to about four in the space of 3 hours as we struggled through some light air clouds. We seem to be wearing quite a few of these clouds that are losing us a lot of miles. I guess everyone has to deal with them as well, but sometimes you feel they seem to find you only.

We are getting ready for some very light air over the next day or so and there seems to be a lot of snoring going on today as the sleeping conditions are at last perfect. Tony (Tony Mutter/NZL) is living up to his nickname ‘Chopper’ and is snoring nearly as loudly as the continuous screaming of the rudders, which is making everyone deaf and shouting is the means of communication.

We fully expect to see Puma, Green Dragon and Ericsson 3 for the next few days and probably into the finish as I can’t imagine anyone getting too far apart in the weather we have coming.

Days like these are why my hair is falling out and going grey, I better stop moaning and go sailing, later.

Brad Jackson – watch captain

ERICSSON 4 LEG TWO DAY 11 QFB: received 25.11.08 1724 GMT

Life onboard Ericsson4 is good at the moment – but due to get more uncomfortable for sure. The heat is tolerable at present but, as we get closer to the equator, I’m sure it will be back to being pretty sticky onboard and all the unpleasantness that not washing properly for a couple of weeks create.

The wind is also due to drop in the next 24hrs, which increases the stress levels for those in power, as it is, we already have been having a torrid time amongst the minefield of clouds which are created in the night times. It has certainly felt a game of snakes and snakes for us onboard Ericsson 4 – but then, I am sure you will be having the same sob story from most of the boats.

Ericsson 3 has been clearly in sight for the last 36hrs and the chasing pack seems to be snapping closer to our heels every time we get a sched. There could be some very tense times ahead and maybe a couple of re-starts of the race.

I was quite surprised yesterday when talking to our Brazilian squad that when I mentioned if we were in the same situation (400 miles from Mauritius) a few hundred years ago, that we would be stopping off for some Dodo to eat. Amazingly, they had not heard of such beast and were also unaware of its place in the English language! I wonder what other societies are unaware of this tragic bird.

Guy Salter MCM

ERICSSON 3 LEG TWO DAY 11 QFB: received 25.11.08 2130 GMT

It is on and off, or ‘good times bad times’ as Led Zeppelin are singing in my ears. In one moment, we are screaming along overpowered in 20 knots and the next second everything goes quiet and the boat pretty much stops.

We are getting closer to the Doldrums and the weather situation is, for the moment, very much caused by the unstable low pressure we have ahead of us. We are surrounded by squalls and we have to be prepared for everything. We have one guy on stand by all the time. He is resting in the bunk closest to the hatch, with all his clothes on, just to be as prepared as possible, able to get up on deck in seconds if we need to change sails.

Earlier today, we had a big time piece of cosy sailing. We were sailing in 12 to 16 knots in 10 knots of wind. Air temperature was around 30, just like the water. Some off the off watch guys were on deck, we were telling stories and having laughing session.

You just have to take the opportunity and enjoy it when you can onboard. Of course, there is always deadly serious racing going on, and everyone is focused and doing everything they can to make the boat go faster. But, having fun and contributing to a good mood onboard, is extremely important as well, and, I think, it is very much underestimated. People are generally too stiff and focused that they forget to have fun.

Like Magnus Olsson often says: ‘You can never win this race if you don’t have fun.’

Sailing always includes good times and bad times and the ones who survive the bad times the best are usually the ones that take the highest step up the podium in the end. They are the ones with the best spirit and best mood. Shortly, the ones who have most fun.

Gustav Morin – MCM

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Nov. 25, 2008) – Ericsson Racing Team’s two crews in the Volvo Ocean Race have swapped first and second a few times since clearing the Leg 2 scoring gate last Thursday, but their advantage over the fleet has dwindled as it transitions away from the trade winds and into the Doldrums.

At today’s 1300 GMT position report, Torben Grael’s International crew on Ericsson 4 was just over 1,000 nautical miles from the finish in Cochin, India, and held a 7-nautical-mile lead over Anders Lewander’s Nordic crew on Ericsson 3.

Behind them, however, the fleet is closing in. Third-placed Puma had closed to 11 miles after trailing by 44 miles yesterday. Telefónica Blue (fourth) and Green Dragon (fifth) were 22 and 27 miles behind, respectively, after trailing by 51 and 72 miles yesterday. Even Kosatka, the fleet back marker, had gained 72 miles in the past 24 hours.

There’s a simple reason for the slowing: the Indian Ocean Doldrums. The lightest winds are situated between 03S and 05S latitude, but the top five in the fleet were all north of 09S latitude and feeling the effects. Windspeeds were down to 10 knots and boatspeeds were a sedate 12 to 13 knots, still faster than the windspeed but mundane compared to the 20-knot power reaching of two days ago.

“We’ll see and feel and plan ahead,” said Ericsson 3 skipper Lewander. “Aksel (Magdahl, navigator) is digging deep into the different models. Unfortunately, we don’t have radar, but we work off updated satellite imagery and Aksel is working with a picture of where to put us in the best way. It’s a tricky one.”

The trick to the situation is the winds on the northern side of the Doldrums. Today the fleet is in an east/southeasterly wind, but on the other side of the Doldrums the winds are predicted west/southwesterly, nearly a 180-degree shift. That means that boats on the windward side of the fleet today could well be on the leeward side tomorrow.

“We’re picking our way through the transition and getting to the westerlies,” said Jules Salter, Ericsson 4 navigator. “You’ve got to sail your own race. There’s a big shift coming, and we’re trying to place ourselves for it. But the west-to-east separation is probably 200 miles. So if one side pays more than other, then it’ll be hard to keep under control.”

Despite the lateral spread, there’s amazingly little separation among the top five after 11 days at sea and approximately 3,500 nautical miles of sailing, a testament to the speed of the boats, the prowess of navigators and the seamanship of the crews. Lewander said the leg has been rough and very wet.

“We’ve had 11 days at sea and for 10 we’ve been hammered with spray like crazy,” said the 45-year-old skipper from Stockholm. “There’s been one day without an enormous amount of spray over deck, that was after we turned north at the gate. It’s been a tough leg, a really, really wet leg. Just looking at last night with strong winds and a little overpowered – wet, wet, wet.”

(Nov. 25, 2008, 1300 GMT)
1. Ericsson 4, 1,086 nautical miles to finish
2. Ericsson 3, 7 NM to leader
3. Puma, 11 NM to leader
4. Telefónica Blue, 22 NM to leader
5. Green Dragon, 27 NM to leader
6. Delta Lloyd, 95 NM to leader
7. Telefónica Black, 98 NM to leader
8. Kosatka, 142 NM to leader

Foto: Guy Salter/ERT.