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19 January 2009, 03:13 pm
PUMA Leads The Way As Volvo Team Form A Soldier's March
PUMA at the start of leg four
PUMA lead the way 24 hours into leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

After a clean start from Singapore yesterday, the crews racing in leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race are settling into the rhythm of being at sea again, something that is hard to adjust to after spending almost a month ashore enjoying the delights of Singapore.
The past 30 or so hours have seen the fleet enjoy pleasant sailing, upwind in good breeze and sunshine. The seven-boat fleet has fallen into line, sailing a soldier's course, and following each other's tracks, but everyone is enjoying the sailing, knowing there will be colder and harder times ahead.

The race committee has taken the decision to modify the course to Qingdao and include a waypoint at South Rock Light, positioned near to Manila in the Philippines (15 07 degrees N, 117 49 degrees E), to keep the fleet to the east of the South China Sea, away from some bad weather expected later this week.

Bouwe BEKKING (NED), skipper of Telefónica Blue, said in his message to the race office this morning that the position of the waypoint is where there is the biggest wind shadow from the Philippines. "It makes this leg less tactical, and most likely the winner will be the team who pushes the hardest through the heavy weather and keeps it in one piece," he said.

Green Dragon's skipper Ian WALKER (GBR) echoed BEKKING's thoughts. Referring to the placement of the additional waypoint, he said, "This may turn out to be an inspired decision, but, right now, it is an irritation. Maybe we do need saving from ourselves in this way." He says that up to now, his team has relied on strong downwind sailing and strategic and tactical decisions to keep them in the frame and agrees that many tactical decisions have been eliminated by the placement of the new waypoint.

Leading the charge is Ken READ (USA) and his team on PUMA, who has overall race leader Ericsson 4 and skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA) attached to them by a bungee cord. Telefónica Blue, according to READ, is just a stone's throw away. Just seven nautical miles separates the fleet from first to last and PUMA has achieved the highest 24-hour run of 302 nm.

BEKKING says that his blue boat always seems to have extra speed when racing under the cover of darkness, although, overnight, they had to slow their boat to almost a standstill to free a piece of plastic which became lodged on the daggerboard.

Ericsson 3, with Magnus OLSSON (SWE) as skipper, overtook them during the manoeuvre to free the plastic, but Telefónica Blue was soon back up to full speed and quickly passed them and stretched away from their sistership, Telefónica Black, skippered by Fernando ECHAVARRI (ESP), who is sailing with new, longer, rudders.

As the fleet pounds upwind in 16 -18 knots of breeze, everything allowable is stacked on the windward side of the boats. Cooking is nearly impossible and moving anywhere on the boat is best done on the leeward side. All the crew bags are stuffed with warm clothing in preparation for the sub zero temperatures expected in the second half of the leg, but right now the crews are still working in tropical temperatures.

Leg Four Day Two: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

PUMA Racing Team USA, Ken READ, (USA) DTF 2346nm
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL, (BRA) +1
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING, (NED) +1
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON, (SWE) + 4
Delta Lloyd IRL, Roberto BERMUDEZ, (ESP) +5
Telefónica Black ESP, Fernando ECHAVARRI, (ESP) +6
Green Dragon IRL/CHN, Ian WALKER, (GBR) +7
Team Russia RUS Andreas HANAKAMP, (AUT) DNS

Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard
(After Singapore In-Port Race)

1. Ericsson 4, skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA), 39 points
2.Telefónica Blue, skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED), 33.5 points
3. PUMA, skipper Ken READ (USA), 31 points
4. Ericsson 3, skipper Magnus OLSSON (SWE), 24 points
5. Green Dragon, skipper Ian WALKER (GBR), 22.5 points
6. Telefónica Black, skipper Fernando ECHAVARRI (ESP), 19 points*
7. Team Russia, skipper Andreas HANAKAMP (AUT), 10.5 points
8. Delta Lloyd, skipper Roberto BERMUDEZ (ESP), 10 points

*Penalty of three points applied for rudder change

Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Volvo Ocean Race -

Lizzie Ward (As Amended By ISAF)
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