21 april, 2009

Ericssons båtar tar in på Telefonica Blue

Ericssons båda båtar i Volvo Ocean Race har nu tagit in en bra bit av det försprång som Telefonica Blue skaffade sig tidigt under delseglingen till Boston. På tisdagsmorgonen ledde den spanska båten med 61 Nm över Ericsson 4 som låg tvåa och ytterligare 2 Nm till Ericsson 3 på tredje plats. Puma ligger ytterligare 2 Nm bakom Ericsson 3. Det återstår bara knappt 1 800 Nm till etappmålet, så nu gäller det för de övriga båtarna att försöka segla ikapp Telefonica Blue.

Återhämtningen för det övriga fältet – förutom Telefonica Blue – var på god väg under måndagskvällen. Båtarna från andra plats och nedåt i resultatlistan seglade då betydligt snabbare än den spanska ledningsbåten. Nu återstår att se vem som navigerar rätt i de komplicerade vädersystem som de sju båtarna ska ta sig förbi eller genom.

Här är den senaste pressreleasen från Race Office:

Leg Six Day 10 Daily Story: Complicated Weather Puts Pressure On Telefónica Blue

Posted: 20 Apr 2009 07:54 AM PDT

The compression has started. Although still leading the fleet, Telefónica Blue has started to sail into a ridge of high pressure, which is checking her progress towards the finish in Boston, and allowing the rest of the fleet a slice of the action.

The compression could last up to 36 hours as the breeze softens ahead and the race from here on in should be a lot closer.

“Hopefully, we have positioned ourselves correctly and we can hang on to our lead,” said Telefónica Blue navigator Tom Addis. “It’s never enjoyable being the lead boat when the fleet is compressing on you, but there is not a lot we can do about it, but we are fine and we are pushing the boat as hard as we can,” he added.

“Now the Weather Gods are smiling in our favour a little bit and pushing Telefónica Blue into lighter air and allowing us to tighten up the gap,” said PUMA’s skipper Kenny Read would dearly like to be on the podium in his home town of Boston.

At 1300 GMT yesterday, Bouwe Bekking and his men had a comfortable lead of 104 nm. Today it is 61nm, and the weather ahead is complicated, making for nervous navigators and skippers.

“The weather models look so horrible that I am contemplating making lots of coffees for the guys, going on deck to help out, check clouds etc. Anything to get me away from the computer and the horrible stuff it is spitting out at me,” said sixth placed Delta Lloyd’s navigator, Wouter Verbraak.

Telefónica Blue is now on the same latitude as the Leeward Islands, while PUMA, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 are in a parallel line with 36 nm between Ericsson 4 in the west and PUMA in the east and all within seven miles of each other.

It is thought that Magnus Olsson, skipper of Ericsson 3, cracked a rib when he was washed into the steering pedestal last week, but according to his crew, he is recovering well.

Today was helmsman Eivind Melleby’s 29th birthday. Part of his surprise was a bag of jelly men sweets, which brought a smile to Olsson’s face when he was handed his share. Melleby said, “The sailing right now is really fun. The team is doing a great job and everybody is enjoying themselves and pushing all the time. Ericsson 3 is a happy ship and goes fast as well.”

In the next tier, just over 40 nm back, are Telefónica Black and Delta Lloyd, followed by Green Dragon a further 22 nm astern. The black boat had an eventful night breaking their gennaker sheet and then having a scare when they collided with a whale. This morning, when daylight broke, the crew checked for damage from the collision and apart from some paint shaved off the forward edge of the keel blade, nothing else was found.

“All onboard love the sea and its animals, and it has been a real shock for everybody to hit one of them,” said skipper Fernando Echávarri.

Current conditions for the fleet are near to perfect, although Wouter Verbraak says that 17 knots of boatspeed just doesn’t have the same adrenaline kick to it. Further ahead, PUMA’s skipper, Kenny Read, is happy.

“This trade wind sailing is a beautiful thing. Just kind of, hook in and hold on, it’s comfortable below and it’s comfortable on deck and we’re ripping along at 20 knots. What is there not to like?” he said.

Phil Jameson from Ericsson 4 says the price paid for such idyllic sailing is being completely soaked, but the water is warm and not many clothes are required. Most of the crew are just wearing very light shorts and short-sleeved shirts under their wet weather gear. “What is nice is coming off watch and just hanging up your foulies and t-shirt and jumping into your bunk with just wet shorts on,” he says.

As the compression intensifies, the blue boat’s speed is down to 14.8 knots, while the black boat is still charging up through the fleet at 20.5 knots. As yesterday, it is PUMA who has the highest 24-hour run, covering 477 nm. No wonder Kenny Read is happy.

Scoring Gate Results Fernando de Noronha
1. Telefónica Blue 19:58:56 GMT 16.04.09 4 Points
2. Ericsson 4 22:55:36 GMT 16.04.09 3.5 Points
3. Delta Lloyd 23:28:32 GMT 16.04.09 3 Points
4. Puma 23:29:31 GMT 16.04.09 2.5 Points
5. Telefónica Black 23:42:20 GMT 16.04.09 2 Points
6. Ericsson 3 00:14:28 GMT 17.04.09 1.5 Points
7. Green Dragon 01:27:26 GMT 17.04.09 1 Point

Leg Six Day 10: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

1. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) DTF 2,027 nm
2. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +61 nm
3. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +61 nm
4. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +67 nm
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +100 nm
6. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) +109 nm
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +131 nm
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS