After using their stealth card yesterday, Green Dragon appeared back on the race radar this morning and are now approximately 60nm from the finish. WALKER and his team had gone into hiding in attempt to fend off a late challenge from Bouwe BEKKING's (NED) Telefónica Blue. However the Telefónica team have now closed to gap from 184 miles 24 hours ago to just 59nm this morning, setting up a close finish for fourth.
Ericsson Racing Team made it a one/two today in leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race when Ericsson 4 crossed the finish line at 22:57 UTC (1957 local time) on Thursday in skipper Torben GRAEL's home port of Rio de Janeiro. Ericsson 4 now extends her overall lead to 63.5 points; 10.5 points ahead of PUMA who retain second place overall.
After being at sea for 40 days, 17 hours, 57 minutes and 44 seconds, to the delight of the large and noisy home town crowd who had been waiting for this moment all day, the GRAEL commented: "We have been dreaming of this moment all week long and it is great to be home. The reception has been beautiful."
Ericsson 4 was the leader of the pack when the Volvo fleet was faced with the decision as to how to tackle the islands of Fiji on day 16, 1 March. GRAEL chose the easterly option, along with Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon and led the field across the first scoring gate to earn four points. Ericsson 3 then made her brave and leg-winning move to the north and Ericsson 4 was left to fight for second place with PUMA.
Speaking of Ericsson 3 performance, GRAEL said, "They made a very great move after the gate and it was clever. They gained a big advantage, but we managed to pull back but they pulled away again and we never had a real chance. They made a fantastic effort all the way from Taiwan."
Skipper Ken READ (USA) guided PUMA over the finish line shortly after Ericsson 4 on Friday morning at 04:27 UTC (01:27 local) to claim the third podium place. READ and his team now have 53 points on the scoreboard having added six leg points and six gate points to their tally. This keeps them in second place, even if Telefónica Blue should beat Green Dragon into the finish.
READ is skippering an entry in the event for the first time, and on this leg he had his first taste of the Southern Ocean and the experience of rounding Cape Horn. On reaching the dock in the Marina da Gloria, READ said: "It was a really long race. I wondered if we would end up having to try and pace ourselves, but the fact is, there's no such thing. If you try to pace yourself, you just lose, so you can't." The team recorded an elapsed time of 40 days, 23 hours, 26 minutes and 60 seconds.
On the approach to the finish, READ wrote, "We will have this experience to look back on forever, although I don't think the magnitude of this leg will really sink in until after the completion of the race. Where we have been, what we have seen, the laughs, the frustration, the hardships are the moments in time that one can never forget - none of it can be taken away."
Throughout the leg, PUMA was consistently in the top three, only dropping to fourth momentarily and on three occasions leading the fleet. From day 24, 9 March, they settled into third place and held that right through to the finish.
Leg Five Day 42: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) FINISHED
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL (BRA) FINISHED
PUMA Racing Team USA, Ken READ (USA) FINISHED
Green Dragon IRL/CHI, Ian WALKER (GBR) STEALTHPLAY
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING (NED) DTF 331
Leg Five Finishing Order Rio
1. Ericsson 3: 8 points
2. Ericsson 4: 7 points
3. PUMA: 6 points
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard - Provisional
1. Ericsson 4, skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA), 63.5 points (FINISHED)
2. PUMA, skipper Ken READ (USA), 53 points (FINISHED)
3. Telefónica Blue, skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED), 46.5 points (RACING)
4. Ericsson 3, skipper Magnus OLSSON (SWE), 43.5 (FINISHED)
5. Green Dragon, skipper Ian WALKER (GBR), 34.5 (RACING)
6. Telefónica Black, 21 (DNS)
7. Delta Lloyd, 12 (DNS)
8. Team Russia, 10.5 (DNS)
Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org