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4 March 2009, 03:48 pm
Ericsson 4 Extend Volvo Lead After Winning Race To Leg Five Scoring Gate
Changing the sails onboard Ericsson 3
Ericsson 3 has taken a gamble after passing the leg scoring gate

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Torben GRAEL and his team on Ericsson 4 won the race to the first scoring gate on leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race, extending their advantage on the overall leaderboard.
As the Volvo Open 70 fleet drag raced towards the scoring gate at 36 degrees S, it was all to play for, up to the very end. The eventual winner of the first points of leg five were Ericsson 4, yet it was Ericsson 3 who received all the interest after their crossing. ISAF Special Event logo

Torben GRAEL (BRA) and his international crew picked up four points at 00:21 UTC last night as they crossed the gate and were closely followed by their stable-mate Ericsson 3 at 00:53 UTC. The Nordic crew then decided to make their brave move and immediately tacked to the north-east, away from all the fleet. Skipper Magnus OLSSON (SWE) has officially put all his trust in his young navigator Aksel MAGDAHL (NOR), who believes that the best course is to the north of the high pressure between them and Cape Horn and not the south.

The bold decision from navigator MAGDAHL caused a stir across the fleet, including sistership Ericsson 4.

"That option has been around a lot of the way down here; we discounted it and went for the points," said Ericsson 4 navigator Jules SALTER (GBR). "Every weather model is showing different things, but [Ericsson 3's option] does look like the favored route and looks like it might be the quickest way to Cape Horn, so they are in very good shape. Having said that there might be some other reasons why that might not work and the more traditional strategy of heading south might work better."

Despite PUMA's crew pushing flat out towards the gate, they finally crossed the line a mere 10 minutes after the Nordic crew. Next came Telefonica Blue followed by the Green Dragon just over an hour behind them at 04:31 UTC.

PUMA skipper Ken READ (USA) described his disappointment this morning, "Sadly. In the end it was not to be and they [Ericsson 4] beat us to the gate by about 5 miles with E3 sneaking into second two miles ahead of us. On top of this the conditions last night and today have been nothing short of horrible: blast reaching in 25 to 30 knots is the most uncomfortable angle on these boats - wet, really wet!"

So as four of the fleet head south to get around the high pressure and inevitably make their way further into the Southern Ocean, it is PUMA in the lead at 13:00 UTC with Ericsson 4 a mere ninenm behind on the leaderboard. Yet, in reality Ericsson 4 are 103nm to the south-west of il Mostro with Telefonica Blue and Green Dragon to the north-west of them with only two miles separating them.

Bouwe BEKKING (NED), skipper on Telefonica Blue, was a happy man today to pass the Dragon to take fourth at the gate, "So we beat the odds to actually pass one team to the scoring waypoint, I had never expected that. But it showed again today, close reaching we seem to be slippery. So now on our way into the Southern Ocean, which looks to be a very tricky affair. This meant as well that one boat [Ericsson 3] has taken the option for a northerly route. If that route will win them the leg, they will write history, as up to now in all the legs down south, the south has won."

Leg Five Day 19: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

PUMA Racing Team USA, Ken READ (USA) DTF 6,978nm
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL (BRA) +9
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) +46
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING (NED) +56
Green Dragon IRL/CHI, Ian WALKER (GBR) +58

Delta Lloyd IRL, Roberto BERMUDEZ (ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP, Fernando ECHAVARRI (ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS, Andreas HANAKAMP (AUT) DNS

Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard - Provisional
(After leg five, scoring gate one)

1. Ericsson 4, skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA), 53 points
2. Telefónica Blue, skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED), 44.5 points
3. PUMA, skipper Ken READ (USA), 44 points
4. Green Dragon, skipper Ian WALKER (GBR), 32 points
5. Ericsson 3, skipper Magnus OLSSON (SWE), 31.5 points
6. Telefónica Black, skipper Fernando ECHAVARRI (ESP), 21 points
7. Delta Lloyd, skipper Roberto BERMUDEZ (ESP), 12 points
8. Team Russia, skipper Andreas HANAKAMP (AUT), 10.5 points

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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