In the last 24 hours, their lead has nearly doubled, while the rest of the fleet made losses of between 14nm at the best and 45nm at the worst. Their pace is fast and furious, but the rest of the fleet has now also been able to set big downwind sails and give chase.
Ericsson 4 and PUMA remain engaged in battle, a little over 200 miles astern of the leader. At 13:00 UTC yesterday, PUMA led from Ericsson 4 by seven miles, but today, when the grey mist cleared briefly, the Ericsson 4 could see PUMA two miles behind. They have since extended the margin by 12 miles.
"I expect we will be close to them again before the second ice waypoint," predicted Ericsson 4's navigator Jules SALTER (GBR). "It will be interesting to see how this duel in Ericsson 3's wake pans out in the next few grey days. It won't be simple and easy that is for sure," he said.
The fleet is clearly split with Green Dragon and Telefónica Blue both down at 45 degrees south, while Ericsson 3 is at 43S and Ericsson 4 and PUMA at 42S.
Green Dragon and Telefónica Blue are both in a position with big breeze and the right angles to cash in and regain some of the massive losses they have suffered to the leading trio.
Telefónica Blue skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED) says there is a long way yet to go and, because his team is in different breeze from the leaders, they have a different set of options open to them as they approach the second ice gate. "We will see what we can do with those," he says.
Earlier Telefónica Blue had a near miss with a whale just at sunrise and within a minute of the crew hoisting their large A3 spinnaker. They had already trapped a fish in their paddle wheel, which measures the speed of the boat through the water.
"Just like when we were racing through logs and other debris coming into the Malacca Straits on leg three, we are all very relieved that all these obstacles disappear at night time…" said navigator Tom ADDIS (AUS).
Moral onboard has improved and, despite the grey skies and occasional rain, the weather is not too cold. "It isn't too wet, and the miles are falling away," says Simon FISHER (GBR). "Cape Horn now does not seem quite so distant and we have the bit between our teeth once more."
Leg Five Day 24: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) DTF 5,227nm
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL (BRA) +208
PUMA USA, Ken READ (USA) +222
Green Dragon IRL/CHI, Ian WALKER (GBR) +346
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING (NED) +499
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
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