The crew of Ericsson 3 is still marvelling at the fact that they led the whole Volvo fleet past Cape Horn and back into the Atlantic yesterday, claiming top marks at the scoring gate at the same time.
Speaking in a radio interview today, Ericsson 3 skipper Magnus OLSSON (SWE) said that rounding Cape Horn is a peak in both his career and his life.
"It is my sixth time,"
he said. "I am most happy for all the rookies on the boat who have never done it before, because I could see how happy they were. It is a fantastic achievement to go round first, I can hardly believe it."
OLSSON also said that whoever dares to challenge Ericsson 3 would have to work for it, promising that his team was going to work harder than ever before to finish the race in pole position.
"We have the motivation and the spirit to fight to the bitter end, that is for sure,"
After passing through the Le Maire Strait, the narrow channel between the Isla de los Estados and the eastern end of Tierra del Fuego, the team ran into a light spot and their lead diminished to only five miles.
Ericsson 4 came barrelling in; only to meet a brick wall, which kept them stationary for two hours after Ericsson 3 was set free to build back her lead to around 45nm.
Now, the leading pack of three, which includes PUMA, is approximately 50nm west of the Falkland Islands, and the leader has less than 2,000 miles to run to the finish.
's (GBR) Green Dragon, which rounded the Horn early this morning, is the only boat now that has the option of leaving the Falklands to port.
The Dragons had over 30 knots of wind and big waves for their Cape Horn rounding, and the team dropped the spinnaker for two hours to ride out the worst of the storm. In the darkness, they passed 20 miles offshore and saw nothing of the famous Cape.
"It feels great to be back in the Atlantic and heading north again,"
said WALKER who planned to celebrate with a special bottle once the boat was in the Le Maire Strait.
Meanwhile, a day or so away from the exit of the Southern Ocean is Telefónica Blue, racing to stay ahead of a chasing storm, which threatens to engulf them with 50-knot winds.
Skipper Bouwe BEKKING
(NED) plans to take the blue boat as close to the rocks as possible. "It's not only good for an impressive view, but, more important, it cuts the distance to Rio to a minimum,"
Telefónica Blue is still making the most of the Southern Ocean conditions, surfing at a steady 19 knots, while the rest of the fleet is managing around 18. Green Dragon's average speed has dropped to around 10 knots as she negotiates the light airs at the exit to the Le Maire Strait.
Cape Horn Scoring Gate
(boat/date/rounding time/gate points)
Ericsson 3: 17 March 2009 1222 UTC: 4 points
Ericsson 4: 17 March 2009 1448 UTC: 3.5 points
PUMA: 17 March 2009 2046 UTC: 3 points
Green Dragon: 18 March 2009 0215 UTC 2.5 points
Leg Five Day 33: 1300 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) DTF 1872nm
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL
PUMA USA, Ken READ
Green Dragon IRL/CHI, Ian WALKER
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING
Delta Lloyd IRL, Roberto BERMUDEZ
Telefónica Black ESP, Fernando ECHAVARRI
Team Russia RUS, Andreas HANAKAMP
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard
(After leg five, scoring gate two)
1. Ericsson 4, skipper Torben GRAEL
(BRA), 56.5 points
2. PUMA, skipper Ken READ
(USA), 47 points
3. Telefónica Blue, skipper Bouwe BEKKING
(NED), 44.5 points
4. Ericsson 3, skipper Magnus OLSSON (SWE), 35.5 points
5. Green Dragon, skipper Ian WALKER
(GBR), 34.5 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 - www.volvooceanrace.org