27 februari, 2009

Ericsson 4 fortfarande i topp

Ericsson 4 behåller sin ledarplats i Volvo Ocean Race. När det återstår knappt 8 400 Nm till Rio de Janeiro så leder båten med 16 Nm över Puma och ytterligare 1 Nm över Erisson 3. Det är alltså fortfarande mycket tajt och spännande i täten.

Här är den senaste pressreleasen från Race Office:

Ericson 3 Leg Five Day 13 QFB: received 26.02.09 0915 GMT

Posted: 26 Feb 2009 10:01 AM CST

During the last couple of days I have learnt a lot about how we should deal most efficiently with these extremely shifty Doldrum conditions. Most of our sails have really narrow slots, but I have now found a setup that works all the spectra from 10 to 30 knots, even though the headsail will need to be slightly repaired every now and then…

We have been in a close fight with Puma the last couple of days, not really sure for how many days exactly how many since I completely lose track of time out here. But what I do know is that we were chasing them yesterday evening, and now they are chasing us.

It felt like they were a bit quicker than us in general. But it seems we handled the squalls better than them. When we prepared well and got the sails down and up in time before the big winds hit, Puma had to bear away to change and by that we managed to get in front.

It is tricky during the day to judge how long you should stay with a big sail when you see a big squall coming in. If you’re too late it is a big struggle and you lose a lot of height and there is a big risk of breaking the sail. During the night you can’t visualise and judge how bad the clouds will be. You only have the radar to make your bet.

Because of that we held back a bit during last night and kept our G1 up instead of hoisting the big masthead zero. All because we did not want to risk getting hit by a heavy gust and not being able to change sail in time. I think Puma pushed a bit harder as they managed to gain back and show up down to leeward of us at the crack of dawn.

During the morning we lost some height against the cat and they are now right behind us.

Today we have been laughing at Martin Krite. When he came up on deck this morning he was a bit worried about his laundry that he had put on the aft guard wires. It had been there for three days and it was only now he realised that where he put them actually is where everyone takes a leak. The clothes then disappeared pretty quickly. Wonder if he will wash them again before use.

It is really nice to still have mostly sun and calm winds. We have never stopped like in the Doldrums we passed on leg one and two and it feels really good. I just hope that my fan will stand a few days more. A few have broken down onboard and it is really hard to get any sleep without one. We want to be rested before we come far down south.

Martin Strömberg – Trimmer and sailmaker

Leg Five Day 13 Daily Story: Out of the Squall Zone

Posted: 26 Feb 2009 07:56 AM CST

The Volvo fleet is rumbling down the track towards Fiji, which is not a mark of the course or a scoring gate, but it is a significant milestone mentally for the five crews racing in this 12,300 nm leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, the longest in the 36-year history of the event. After passing Fiji, there is still approximately 1000 nm to run to the first of two gates, where the first points will be scored.

The island of Fiji is approximately 400 nm on the bow, and it will have a huge influence on how the fleet sails in the next two days. The western-most boat in the fleet, fourth-placed Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED), is having to sail at the tightest angle since the start of the leg and the yacht feels more constrained than before.

“The guys above us (to the east) have a slightly better angle to the top of Vanua Levu Island than us, especially the Dragons, so we are holding a breath a bit,” said navigator Tom Addis. The team has made a spectacular come-back after starting the leg 19 hours after the rest of the fleet due to contact with a rock just minutes before the start of the leg in Qingdao. Telefónica Blue is now only 36 nm behind leaders Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA).

“We’ve had a great run in the last 24 hours through some very unstable weather, and have pulled the front runners back by a massive amount, to the stage of almost being in the same patch of water now,” says Addis.

Competition is very close. PUMA (Ken Read/USA) and Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) are just 23 and 24 nm from Ericsson 4 and both Telefónica Blue and Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) are making some fast runs. Everything is still open for the first scoring gate at 36 degrees south.

The thinking on the ocean is that the teams are out of the worst of the ‘squall zone’, and the sailing is starting to settle down. Simon Fisher (Telefónica Blue) reported a six-hour morning watch of beautiful, fast upwind sailing in a steady breeze with the Code Zero sail flying. There was sunshine, flat water and not too many clouds in the sky. However, the weather threatened to spoil things for the afternoon watch who were just getting in to the rhythm of sailing round the clouds. It seems unlikely now that fleet will reach the hoped-for complete standstill that the Telefónica Blue crew were counting on, which would have allowed a full restart of the leg and a further opportunity for this team to gain.

Meanwhile, Ericsson 4 has been up close and personal with some wildlife. Rather closer than they would have liked.

“Today we also saw some whales, one of them less than a boat length from us. They are beautiful animals and their size is impressive. But my memories of them are not all nice,” wrote Joca Signorini who, when sailing onboard Brasil 1 in a qualification for the 2005-06 race actually hit one. He was thrown against the main bulkhead had broke three ribs. “Let’s hope we don’t get any closer – although beautiful, they are a danger to us as we are to them,” he said.

Leading the fleet by just 23 nm, Ericsson 4 is reporting flat seas and 12 knots of breeze. The crew are wearing shorts and T-shirts and enjoying beautiful nights filled with lots of stars.

Onboard PUMA, MCM Rick Deppe was chatting to New Zealander, Rob Salthouse about the night sky:

“I was talking about my new, super-duper infrared see-in-the-dark camera light and Rob was telling me that he missed his kids and wished that he could bring them out here so that they could see how beautiful the night was. We both lamented that the folks at Sony had a long way to go until they could make a camera that would record a night like tonight, but then Rob commented that maybe that is a good thing, because everyone would be out here if they knew what it was like.”

With 8,402 miles to run to the finish in Rio, at 1300 GMT today, the fleet was spread 70 nm from first to fifth, but 102 nm west/east divide from Telefónica Blue in the west to Green Dragon in the east. The leading trio has remained almost the same distance apart, just a two-mile gain in the 24 hours, but there have been substantial gains for the backmarkers. Telefónica Blue has caught up another 26 nm and Green Dragon 18 miles. Telefónica Blue posts the fast 24-hour run of 266 nm, while PUMA is currently averaging the highest boat speed of 11.8 knots.

Leg Five Day 13: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 8,402 nm
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +23
Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +24
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +36
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +70

Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Länk: www.volvooceanrace.org