9 mars, 2009

Ericsson Racing Team i täten över södra oceanen

De båda båtarna från Ericsson Racing Team ligger i ledningen för Volvo Ocean Race när flottan är på väg under den fjärde veckan av Leg 5. Ericsson 3 leder nu med 229 Nm före tvåan, Ericsson 4, efter sitt smarta navigationsval. På tredje plats ligger Puma.

Här är den senaste pressreleasen från Ericsson Racing Team:

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Mar. 9, 2009) – A bold tactical play last week has resulted in Ericsson 3, the Nordic crew of Ericsson Racing Team in the Volvo Ocean Race, stretching a large lead at the head of the fleet on the fourth week of Leg 5.

The team’s second yacht, Ericsson 4, is running second as the yachts make speeds between 20 and 25 knots across the Southern Ocean and advances on Cape Horn, the legendary point at the bottom of South America, some 2,800 nautical miles to the east/southeast. It is hoped that the leaders would reach Cape Horn around Mar. 15.

“Finally we can bear away just a bit and put some pace on,” said Ericsson 3 watch captain Thomas Johanson of Finland. “It’s a relief and it’s so much more fun to sail when you can work the boat in the waves and go around 25 knots instead of 15 to 18.”

At today’s 1259 GMT position report Ericsson 3 had completed a 24-hour run of 516 nautical miles, tops in the fleet, and had 5,227 miles remaining to the finish in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Skipper Magnus Olsson’s Ericsson 3 led Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael, by 208 nautical miles.

On the horizon are two obstacles: the second ice waypoint followed by Cape Horn. The next ice waypoint is at latitude 45 South and between longitudes 120 West and 105 West. The fleet must be on or north of the designated latitude at some point between the two stated lines of longitude.

Ericsson 3 today was making a course of 91 degrees along the 43rd parallel. The yacht’s course was 12 degrees higher than its bearing to the western end of the ice waypoint. According to team meteorologist Chris Bedford, the forecast over the coming days should provide a swift and easy course to the waypoint.

“Today’s forecast is relatively free of any pattern that will significantly slow Ericsson 3,” said Bedford, who’s forecasting his third consecutive Volvo Ocean Race. “Ericsson 3 is sailing just ahead of a cold front. Winds are fresh to strong from the northwest, with wind speeds over 30 knots at times.

“The front will catch up to them shortly, and the winds will veer from northwest to southwest,” Bedford continued. “Once the wind is south of due west Ericsson 3 (and Ericsson 4 and Puma) will jibe over onto starboard and start heading on a more east-southeast or even southeast heading.”

The rounding of Cape Horn is a moment that all sailors cherish in this race. The cape has claimed many lives of explorers and adventurers through the years, but those that successfully navigate the rocky outcrop earn a gold earring as a mark of accomplishment.

The crews’ approach this year will be more difficult because of the second ice waypoint at 45 South. The cape is at latitude 56 South, meaning the crews must make a sharp dive to the southeast after honoring the waypoint.

“From the western end of the second ice gate they’ll start to work further south to take advantage of better winds and set up for arrival at Cape Horn,” Bedford said. “The cape is much further south than their current latitude, so they’ll be looking to use the coming left-shifted breeze to angle their course more directly toward Cape Horn.”

Cape Horn also marks the second of two scoring gates on the lengthy leg that originated in Qingdao, China, on Feb. 14. Ericsson Racing Team last week cleared the first gate in first and second place, with Ericsson 4 ahead of Ericsson 3 by 32 minutes.

Soon after clearing the gate Ericsson 3 made its bold move to the north. The crew moved into the lead last Friday and has been extending ever since.

“Our progress southeast is gathering pace and the weather has become more ‘normal’ after the set up at the scoring gate,” said Ericsson 4 navigator Jules Salter, who navigated the second-placed yacht in the last Volvo Ocean Race.

“Our friends on Ericsson 3 used this well to their advantage with a carefully thought out punt over the top,” Salter continued. “This had been lurking as an option, but old school conservative thinking (south is good) rather tempered our risk assessment. This left us taking a loss, but at least we are in touch with our main rivals overall. Good to see the Ericsson 3 move.”

Visit the official Ericsson Racing Team Web site (www.EricssonRacingTeam.com) to participate in a competition against the Ericsson 4 crewmembers, who have provided estimates for their rounding of Cape Horn.

(Mar. 9, 2009, 1259 GMT)
1. Ericsson 3, 5,227 nautical miles to finish
2. Ericsson 4, +208 NM
3. Puma, +222 NM
4. Green Dragon, +346 NM
5. Telefónica Blue, +499 NM

Aksel Magdahl works the foredeck. Photo Gustav Morin/EricssonRacingTeam

Martin Stromberg grinding. Photo Gustav Morin/EricssonRacingTeam

Early morning on Ericsson 4. Photo Guy Salter/Ericsson Racing Team