After a slow get away from Qingdao in China on leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race, the wind has arrived on schedule and the first three boats are up, up and away.
However, Ericsson 3, who had barely two hours after crossing the finish of leg four yesterday to re-provision the boat, load sails and extra clothes, before crossing the start line just under seven hours after the official leg start, is hunting the leaders down in grand style.
's (NED) Telefónica Blue had a disaster on the start line yesterday after running aground, requiring BEKKING to return to Qingdao and haul his boat out for inspection and immediate repair. The team resumed racing last night, 19 hours behind the fleet. At 1300 today, they were 202 nm in arrears, amounting to approximately nine hours in the current conditions.
The fleet is now being catapulted towards the southern tip of Japan at breakneck speed. Ken READ
(USA) onboard PUMA reported a steady boat speed of 30 knots earlier this morning in 27 knots of wind. For Telefónica Blue, the start was anything but slow, which was tough on the crew and Xabier FERNANDEZ
from Spain was seasick. In the first hour of racing, the crew made four sail changes and saw their first snowflakes.
The light airs in the initial stages of the leg helped Ericsson 3 to catch the leaders and during their first two hours of racing, they drew them in by 30 miles. "We really have to fight the cold at these speeds,"
said Media Crew Memeber Gustav MORIN. "It is really tough when the freezing water is spraying us all the time,"
At 13:00 UTC today, the leader of the pack, Ericsson 4 was 155 nautical miles from the southern tip of Japan south island and averaging a boat speed of 22 knots. PUMA was 20nm behind her and in third place was Green Dragon 44 nm behind Ericsson 4. Green Dragon skipper Ian WALKER
(GBR) will be looking anxiously over his shoulder as Ericsson 3 has closed the margin to just six miles. Ericsson 4 achieved the fastest 24-hour run of 415nm.
Leg Five Day Two: 13:00 UTV Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 4 SWE, Torben GRAEL (BRA) DTF 12,076nm
PUMA Racing Team USA, Ken READ (USA) +20
Green Dragon IRL/CHN, Ian WALKER (GBR) +44
Ericsson 3 SWE, Magnus OLSSON (SWE) +46
Telefónica Blue ESP, Bouwe BEKKING (NED) +202
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 - www.volvooceanrace.org