15 juni, 2009

Ericsson 4 i ledningen mot Stockholm

Ericsson 4 leder fältet i Volvo Ocean Race på väg mot Stockholm. Det har gått undan ganska bra under natten och nu återstår mindre än 200 Nm till målgången. Ericsson 3 ligger på tredje platsoch PUMA på andra plats. Det är dock oerhört tätt mellan båtarna i fältet, men med tanke på den tuffare navigering som väntar så kan “svenskbåtarna” ha ett försprång.

Här är de senaste uppgifterna från racets hemsida:

The news is encouraging from Telefonica Blue. Race Director Jack Lloyd, who was with Bouwe Bekking this morning in Marstrand where the boat underwent a full inspection overnight, reports that there is no major structural damage to the keel or the canting mechanism.

The main damage is to the daggerboard casing and the hull aft of the casing. The daggerboard took the brunt of the impact. The shore crew, led by Campbell Field, is working on a fix for that. There is some gouging of the keel bulb, which will be filled.

Apart from a few minor bruises, all the crew is in good shape and there is a positive mood in the camp.

Jack also reported that Ericsson Racing have made their workshop available for repairs and plenty of other team member have weighed in to help out.

The plan at this stage is to have the boat on the water by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. Bekking’s intention is to resume racing with a view to making the start line for the Stockholm in-port race series.


Small gaps are appearing on the leaderboard at the 07:00 GMT Position Report. PUMA is still stuck in an Ericsson sandwich, Ericsson 4 leading the shoe boat by a mile with the Nordics on Ericsson 3 holding third but now three miles adrift of their big brothers.

Telefonica Black leads the second string at +7 miles while Green Dragon (+8) has traded places with Delta Lloyd (+9). The deficit from first to last has grown by five miles since the last sched.

Now just over 200 miles to the finish. The Race Viewer shows them broad reaching in 18-20 knots.


Given that the fleet is still rollicking along at 20 knots, revisions are being issued on ETAs. There is one light patch lying ahead, halfway along the Olund Island, which they are due to reach by 13:00 GMT.

If their progress is not unduly slowed by that dollop of light wind, which seems likely at this stage, then the ETA may be in the region of 21:00 GMT (23:00 local, Sweden). Further updates when we have them.


We will bring the latest on the Telefonica Blue situation as soon as we have it. In the meantime, PUMA skipper Ken Read has sent his reaction to events at the start in Marstand where Bouwe Bekking’s men hit a rock, were stranded for two hours, suspended racing and are currently undergoing repairs in port.

“Telefonica’s collision with the rock is enough to make you sick to your stomach watching,” Read wrote. “A grotesque sight that you never want to see or be part of.

“We were following about 10 boat lengths behind T Blue in second place heading south when it happened. Capey (navigator Andrew Cape) was sitting next to me and saying that we were going to have to come up or down in the near future.

“We were going about 13 knots. And then … bang. Their (Telefonica Blue’s) entire transom came out of the water right in front of us. I said to Capey, ‘up or down!’, towhich he said up and we climbed off of the stricken boat by about three lengths and made it through.

“Bottom line is that no one wants to see something like that happen and for sure we are thrilled that no one was hurt. We hope they get back in the race by Stockholm. It just isn’t the same without the entire fleet together for the finish in St Petes.”


We currently have a mountain of emails in from you, our avid online audience. I am going to do my best Edmund Hillary impersonation and bring you a taste of them throughout the morning. Apologies if you don’t make the cut.

Treat our liveblog email like a dart board. If you throw enough arrows you are bound to hit the bull’s-eye sooner or later.


Mark Covell reports from the FleetBroadband Express that he has transmitted a load of video footage to our editing team here at Race HQ. That should take care of the rest of the morning’s viewing. Get the popcorn in.


The emails from the Volvo Open 70 Media Crew Members are like big red buses … nothing for an hour, then three arrive at once.

This, just in, from PUMA’s Rick Deppe. “At 0500 GMT after crossing gybes with E4 for the last five hours, we are now side by side and headed north at pace, there are about 250 miles to he finish.

“Right now the thinking is that the wind will die out as we move north and the front that we have been playing will start to move away and we move into a high pressure system and a very different type of sailing.

“E3 are also right on our heels, let’s hope they don’t know something special about the area l or have some trick up their sleeve as we get closer to the coast and begin to play the sea breezes and coastal effects. It’s been a drag race up to now and that has suited us, the last 200 miles will be very tricky.”

Will the Nordics’ local knowledge play a hand in the outcome? We’ll see.


There is a similar disregard for shut-eye on Delta Lloyd, so says Sander Pluijm. “We passed Green Dragon and Tel Black and made good gains on the rest, so after a rather disappointing day yesterday, this start of the day is better.

“The crew is eager not end up in the back of the fleet again so fighting spirits are high and sleeping hours low.”


An email reaches us from the keyboard of Ericsson 3 Media Crew Member, Gustav Morin. Seems there are some bleary eyes among the Nordic crew. This leg may be a sprint, but sleep is at a premium.

Morin takes up the story … “I was just about to fall asleep behind the wheel”, Richard Mason says and put his head on the hatch in the aft when he comes up from emptying the water in the ballast tanks.

“His eyes are barely open and luckily he is about to take off to the his bunk. We have made pretty big gains on PUMA and Ericsson 4 during the night and morning. And we have increased the distance to Telefonica Black.

“We are still making good speed witht the big A4 gennaker up heading north-east towards Oland. It’s been a very fast trip so far and if the wind doesn’t drop we will, knock on wood, be ahead of the scheduled in to Sandhamn.”


Thanks to the guys on the FleetBroadband Express for their eyewitness account of quite a boat race. By the 05:00 Position Report, we have a three-way stoush at the front featuring the Ericsson twins and PUMA.

And there is barely a crunchy nut corn flake between the second group of Delta Lloyd, Green Dragon and Telefonica Black. In fact, there is just four miles from first to last.

Just over 260 miles have been wiped off the clock, so another 260 remaining to the finish line in Sandhamn.


Sorry for the delay. It was my turn at the wheel of the FleetBroadband Express. As I write this, we’re about a boatlength behind Ericsson 4, trying to keep up with them. The wind is up just over 15 knots, and the boats are doing speeds near 20 knots according to our GPS.

Ericsson 4 and PUMA have been trading gybes downwind this morning with PUMA the meat in an Ericsson sandwich. Magnus Olsson and the boys on Ericsson 3 aren’t far behind.

We’re just watching as Ericsson 4 sets up for a gybe. The process seems to start about 90 seconds to 2 minutes before they alter course. The sail stack on deck gets moved, the lines all set up for new heading, and then, finally, they swing the bow around. It almost looks more the the boat rotates under the sail than anything else. This particular gybe wasn’t the smoothest we’ve seen from Ericsson 4. Perhaps they had a bit of stagefright with us so close behind.

And Ian Moore, navigator Green Dragon, has just emailed in: “It’s daybreak and it looks like us and Delta Lloyd are bringing some pressure into the back of the fleet. We can now see then whole fleet and we have gained significantly on what we think is Tele Black. I think we just have more wind.”


We’re up alongside PUMA now, who are leading the fleet on the charge north as the day breaks over Sweden. Great conditions out here, just around 12-14 knots of wind and PUMA sailing flat and fast with the spinnaker, staysail and full main up.

Not sure how much sleep the guys are getting on the race boats. Here, on the FleetBroadband Express, most are down below catching some rest.

Gustav Morin, Ericsson 3, says they’re trying to manage the sleep better on their boat. They think that was part of the problem last leg.

“We are trying to get some sleep and we have a couple of guys lying in their bunks on standbywatch, which means they are ready to go up for any manouvre. Last leg we think we lost a lot from pushing too hard with no sleep and everyone had a downtour at the same time whitch had a big effect on the decisionmaking. ‘The boat goes faster with more guys on deck, but only to a certain point, It is hard to find the balance,’ says Magnus Olsson and continues: ‘We are trying to be a bit smarter with the sleeping this time.'”


Mark’s timing isn’t bad, I’ll give him that. This is Peter Rusch reporting now from the FleetBroadband Express, and just as Mark was getting ready to sign off, we spotted the masthead light of what we think is Ericsson 4. We’ve been charging along in an attempt to intercept the fleet as it closes with the coast.

If you ever want to gain an appreciation for just how fast the Volvo Open 70s are, just try to keep with them. It’s one thing to see them speed by during a leg start or in-port race. But it’s another thing again when you’re trying to stay with them for the long haul.

The sun is just starting to bleed light over the eastern horizon now, and I should think we’ll have a better idea of who were closing with over the next 30 minutes or so.

As Mark mentioned, our connection out here is good – thanks Inmarsat – but not quite what the guys have in the office. But keep the emails coming, and we’ll try to respond in kind. And over the next few hours, we’ll have some sunrise shots for you as well.


Welcome to the Day 2 Live Blog. The eventful story of Day 1 is right here.

When we left the fleet they were all on port gybe and headed for Sandhammaren, on the south-east tip of Sweden. The breeze was a solid 20 knot westerly, and showing no signs of fading.

And not much has changed, everyone still blasting at the coast – the big tactical question being how close to go to the land. The further in you go, the more miles you save, but the more you risk running out of wind as you sail into the wind shadow of the land. A dilemma we will see played out in the next hour or two.

Krister just wanted me to know that you’re still out there, paying attention, despite the late hour. “I think you were wrong…” Krister goes on to point out that where I said at the 21:15 Update: The leaders have passed south of the light at Blenheim, and we now have a 15-to-18 knot westerly, it’s backed (rotated clockwise) from the north-northwest. The part in brackets should have been (rotated anti-clockwise). Nice spot, Krister.

Johan Carlsson reckons that, “we’re in for another late evening/night finish with the current ETA (estimated time of arrival) at around 23.35 tomorrow. The crews seem to have a pretty big appetite for leg finishes during the dark hours.”

And all the Arrivals team are grateful for it, Johan, they just love those long vigils into the night. I should point out that the ETA is posted in the Data Centre – it’s the variable called ARRIVAL.

Telefonica Black’s navigator, Roger Nilson has just emailed us on that very topic, “One weather model has us running to Olands Sodra Udde and then reaching home fast, finishing in the evening [ED – the one we’re using in the Data Centre]. The other model is a bit more complex with little wind around Gotland tomorrow and arrival in Sandhamn early morning Tuesday.”

As I was saying, long vigils into the night. And talking of long vigils into the night, with the fleet headed for the coast somewhere near the Sandhammaren lighthouse, now less than 20 miles away, the FleetBroadband Express has gone on ahead to try and intercept them. They should pick them up sometime around 01:00 GMT. So this is Mark Chisnell signing off and heading for bed, leaving Peter Rusch to pick up the story from the water once the fleet hit the coast.

Conditions are pretty rough out there, with wind speeds up and over 20 knots, so the rather tougher working conditions will make it difficult for Pete to respond to your emails. But the ‘full service’ blog will be resumed when Cameron Kelleher returns for the dawn patrol in the morning.

In the meantime, thanks for all the messages, it’s been a blast, and I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.

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