Ericsson 4 and PUMA head the pack four days into the 12,300nm leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race, whilst Green Dragon has made a gamble way out to the east of the fleet.
The Volvo fleet is heading east and Green Dragon has taken a more easterly course than the others have. Why are they not taking the straighter route towards New Zealand? Stuart BANNATYNE
(NZL), watch captain onboard the leading boat, Ericsson 4 says the answer is simple really:
"These Volvo Open 70s like the wind to be free so we can sail fast angles and really keep the boat moving along at wind speed or higher. To this end, we are using the northerly winds we now have to make some miles to the east before we join up with the northeast trade winds in a few days time. If it all pans out, then, by the time we are headed, we will have enough of an easterly position to head south and keep the boat sailing the fast angles that it loves. This should enable us to reach the scoring line at 36 degrees south a lot sooner than taking the direct route."
But, why has skipper Ian WALKER
(GBR) decided to take Green Dragon even further to the east? WALKER and his new navigator, Team Russia's Wouter VERBRAAK from The Netherlands, have held a more northerly course for most of the past 24 hours, and now they are 60 miles due north of Ericsson 3, and 120 miles to the northwest of the Ericsson 4. Mark CHISNELL goes into the minutiae in today's TEN ZULU report here
As the fleet continues to blast reach, the breeze has dropped slightly and the temperatures are rising. For Telefónica Blue it is just a question of grinding down the opposition and not being tempted into taking short cuts. The team has set their big spinnaker and reports a grey sky. "Reaching is a bit boring for most of us, but it means good mileage in the right direction,"
skipper Bouwe BEKKING
It might be dull for those on deck, but for the media crew members, whose responsibility it is to manage the onboard media, life is easier when the boat is not bouncing about. Added to that, there is a bit of rocket science going on up above the fleet, which has given them a bit of 'time out'.
Rick DEPPE (GBR), Media Crew Member (MCM) onboard second placed PUMA explains the reason:
"Race sponsor, Inmarsat, who operates the satellite technology and provides the communications and data transfer services to the race, is having a bit of a re-organisation up in space,"
"Inmarsat recently launched a new satellite which has allowed them to re-position some of the other satellites in their network and which will result in a better overall service to users. However, in the short term it causes a 10-day outage for us here on our little Volvo 70s in terms of being able to get media off the boats.
"We do have a back up system onboard. The Fleet 33 allows us a more stripped down service which can be used for voice, text and smaller data files. The more powerful Fleet 500 system will come back online on 24 February and this will allow us to start sending the video and full resolution pictures that everyone has come to expect."
(SWE), Ericsson 3's MCM, says that due to the satellites being unavailable, he is living in luxury. Describing his life onboard, he said: "I still take photos and do video and editing, so that I will have material ready to send when the satellites get back in business, but there is no stress. I had a six-hour nice sleep, woke at five and made porridge for the guys as usual. Then I indulged myself with some muesli with pieces of fresh orange and pear (we still have some fruit onboard and it is a fantastic contrast to the freeze-dried stuff). After that, I 'worked from home' for a couple of house, which means I was sitting in my bunk with the laptop in my lap."
In the last 24-hours, there has been no change to the order of the fleet, however, PUMA has closed the deficit by half and is hanging on to Ericsson 4's coat tails by just eight nautical miles. Conversely, Ericsson 3 has slipped back and is now 79nm behind the leader, losing 16 miles in the last 24-hours. Green Dragon has faired even worse and is now 125nm behind, but this may look worse than it actually is due to their easterly position. Telefónica Blue has made a small gain of four miles. The fastest 24-hour run of 455nm goes to Ericsson 4.
Leg Five Day 4: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL
(BRA) DTF 11305 nm
PUMA Racing Team USA, Ken READ
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) +79
Green Dragon IRL/CHN, 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
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 - www.volvooceanrace.org