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22 March 2009, 04:05 pm
Ericsson 3's Lead Cut As High-Pressure Slows Volvo Fleet
Onboard PUMA Ocean Racing
Media Crew Member Rick DEPPE used a 30-second exposure on his SLR camera, clamped to the boat to create these amazing shots of PUMA Ocean Racing

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

It is an agonising time for Ericsson 3 as Magnus OLSSON watches the rest of the fleet catching him as his team fights yet another high-pressure area, which sits between them and the finish of leg five in Rio de Janeiro.
Over the past 24 hours, second-placed Ericsson 4 has closed the gap to 57nm, gaining 29 miles. PUMA too has knocked a dent in the deficit and is now just 116nm behind Ericsson 3, a gain of 89nm in 24 hours. These three yachts are now 400nm of the coast of Uruguay, roughly parallel to Cabo Palinio.

"Fighting against a front and staying in it has been on the agenda many times in this leg. You may win a lot of miles by doing so, but if you fall short, the wind will back and you start to lose," says Ericsson 3's watch captain Thomas JOHANSSON (FIN). "We are humans and not robots, so we too start to feel tired and are especially fed up with these fights," he added.

ISAF Special Event logoGreen Dragon is still closer inshore, 210nm off Mar del Plata in Argentina, which was a stopover in the 1981-82 Whitbread Race. Their inshore move, while looking disastrous yesterday, has gained the team 78nm, just as navigator Wouter VERBRAAK (NED) hoped it would.

With just 771 miles still to run for Ericsson 3 before crossing the finish line in Rio and the safe haven of Marina Da Gloria where hot showers, cool beers and famous Brazilian food await, boat speeds are down to under 10 knots and yet the distance is tantalisingly close.

The only boat achieving a reasonable speed is Telefónica Blue, but she still languishes at the tail end of the fleet, some 586 miles behind the leaders.

Current predictions are for a finish for Ericsson 3, provided she can hold off the advances of Ericsson 4, on Wednesday morning, with the other two podium places being decided later in the day. Green Dragon is forecast to finish a day behind, in the afternoon of 26 March, while Telefónica Blue still has just over 1,300nm still to run.

Leg Five Day 37: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) DTF 771nm
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL (BRA) +57
PUMA Racing Team USA, Ken READ (USA) +116
Green Dragon IRL/CHI, Ian WALKER (GBR) +335
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING (NED) +586

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 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), 46.5 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

Lizzie Ward (As Amended By ISAF)
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