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20 February 2009, 04:32 pm
Telefónica Blue Makes Move As Green Dragon Gambles
Xabier FERNANDEZ trimming the main in rough weather onboard Telefonica Blue
Xabier FERNANDEZ trimming the main in rough weather onboard Telefonica Blue

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Telefónica Blue have made their move on leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race as skipper Bouwe BEKKING is determined to stick to his plan and sail to an imaginary point where he thinks will be the best place to cross the Doldrums.
So far, it seems to be working, and Bouwe BEKKING (NED) and his team have snatched fourth place from Ian WALKER's (GBR) Green Dragon, but BEKKING describes Telefónica Blue's current course as a 'killer'.

"There is heaps of water over the deck and it is uncomfortable downstairs; the guys have to crawl around to go from A to B, as, otherwise, they get airborne," he said earlier today. ISAF Special Event logo

Green Dragon has carried on gaining miles to the east of the leaders Ericsson 4 and PUMA, with now over 200nm between them. Is this a gamble to get them through the doldrums or is it a calculated risk?

"If it works, of course we will be heroes, and if not, we will be the ones that took the gamble and failed," said WALKER today. "Either way, the next week will be far more interesting than if we just followed their [the tracks of the other boats] tracks, losing miles on every position report," he said. The team is beginning to claw back some miles and Ian Walker is a happier man.

According to WALKER, the lighter keel weight of Green Dragon limits their horsepower and the team can do nothing about that. He admits that it has become clear, over the last few legs, that it is hard for the Green Dragon to live with the big teams in terms of raw boat speed. But they are not letting their heads drop and have to find their edge elsewhere either through teamwork, reliability or strategy and tactics.

The fleet is still reaching and everything onboard is wet. Driving rain overnight has added to the unpleasant conditions. "I've just come off deck and my hands look like I fell asleep in the bath for 10 hours and my lips feel like I have just eaten an entire bucket of salty popcorn," described Simon FISHER (GBR), who returned to the role of helmsman onboard Telefónica Blue for this leg.

At the front of the fleet, the leaders Ericsson 4 and PUMA have carried on the charge to the south with PUMA taking out eight nautical miles on the front-runners in the past 24 hours.

Guy SALTER, Media Crew Member (MCM) from the Ericsson International crew has been observing some very strange traits onboard his boat of late. Tony MUTTER (NZL) being the biggest culprit with his aspirations to become a Broadway star. "Tony surprised all today by coming on watch as if he were ready for the final scenes of the stage hit "Phantom Of The Opera" as the lead roll. He had the left side of his face covered in his Phantom mask - only his was from baby anti rash cream. It transpired that this was actually due to the prolonged port tack we have been on and the saltwater constant spray is playing havoc with his skin."

Third placed Ericsson 3 has gained a massive 45nm on the leaders overnight, only being pipped by Telefonica Blue for best 24 run, by a mere 1nm. Gustav MORIN (SWE), MCM from Ericsson 3, told of the crew's positive mood, "We are still sailing well, the boat feels good and there haven't been any big incidents. We are fighting in the backwater of Ericsson 4 and Puma, still within striking distance."

Leg Five Day 7: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL (BRA) DTF 10,214nm
PUMA Racing Team USA, Ken READ (USA) +2
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) +60
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING (NED) +221
Green Dragon IRL/CHN, Ian WALKER (GBR) +231

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

1. Ericsson 4, skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA), 49 points
2. Telefónica Blue, skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED), 42 points
3. PUMA, skipper Ken READ (USA), 41 points
4. Green Dragon, skipper Ian WALKER (GBR), 30 points
5. Ericsson 3, skipper Magnus OLSSON (SWE), 24 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 -

Sophie Luther (As Amended By ISAF)
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