After rounding the island, the team was swallowed up by a big cloud. "For nearly two hours we were struggling badly and only wiggled ourselves out of the wind hole," BEKKING explained earlier this morning. Worst still, the crew saw PUMA and Ericsson 3 appear on the horizon - two boats who had, for much of this leg, been safely behind them. "We just managed to cross PUMA," BEKKING said.
The feeling is much the same on Ericsson 3. The elation of passing through the gate in third place was soon replaced by a quiet mood onboard. After keeping Ken READ (USA) and his team on PUMA at bay for hours and hours, just after the gate the two boats split and PUMA gained 13 miles on Ericsson 3. "The boat is quiet and you can't hear as much joking and laughing as usual," says media crew member Gustav MORIN.
However, by 10:00 UTC today, the mood must surely have improved on Ericsson 3 as they overtook Telefónica Blue to take second position, by just one nautical mile. PUMA was still in fourth place, but only three miles behind Telefónica Blue.
Telefónica Black, skippered by Fernando ECHAVARRI (ESP), crossed the line 500 metres from the most northern point of Indonesia. The crew reported that the views, especially of the active volcano, were fantastic at night. But like everyone else, the team is exhausted. She is 53nm astern of Ericsson 4, and on her heels just five miles behind is Ian WALKER (GBR) and Green Dragon.
Green Dragon rounded an hour after Telefónica Black. As they crossed the line, the wind direction changed and they continued to sail into headwinds. "Onboard, everyone is hot and a bit fed up of sailing upwind," said Walker this morning. "Tactics are very hard as you have to balance which shifts are worth tacking on, against the hassle and loss of speed involved. Nothing is worse than tacking, only to find the wind has shifted back again and you have to go through the process all over again. You only get one or two of those before the crew has had enough," he said.
Kosatka Team Russia was seventh. "Over the last day we have closed the distance to the group considerably, and we now have all our guns pointed at the Green Dragon team. Although they are currently 40 nm ahead of us, we are on the verge of entering the fluky winds of the Straits in which such a distance can be eaten up in a matter of hours," says navigator Wouter VERBRAAK optimistically. "Spirits are high and we are hungry. Pirates? Fishing boats? Massive traffic? Bring it on. These are our passing opportunities of the next days," he adds.
Finally, onboard Delta Lloyd, crippled with only one keel ram working, life has calmed and the crew is confident that they will be able to nurse the boat into Singapore.
The entire fleet, except Delta Lloyd, has now passed the scoring gate at Palau We, and are now negotiating the Malacca Strait with their eyes wide open.
This area is not only one of the busiest areas in the world for commercial shipping; it is littered with partially submerged objects such as tree trunks and other debris. Telefónica Blue has already twice hit something, but no damage was caused.
Onboard the leading boat, Ericsson 4, Guy SALTER media crew member says, "The only thing on our minds is getting to Singapore as soon as possible while avoiding the fishermen and their nets, the vast amount of commercial shipping, the large amount of litter in the water which ranges from a plastic cup to the odd tree trunk, the tides, the sandbanks, the storm clouds and associated lightening, the pirates, the sea snakes and the areas of no wind."
Speeds for the leading bunch are averaging between 11 - 13 knots and, based on current progress, computer routeing software is predicting a finish for the first boats on Monday late afternoon UTC.
Leg Three Day Eight: 10:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL/BRA) DTF 390nm
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) +31
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) +32
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ/USA) +35
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) +53
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER/GBR) +58
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT) +97
Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto BERMUDEZ/ESP) +202
Scoring Gate Order
Ericsson 4 (4 points)
Telefónica Blue (3.5 points)
Ericsson 3 (3 points)
PUMA (2.5 points)
Telefónica Black (2 points)
Green Dragon (1.5 points)
Kosatka Team Russia (1 point)
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard - Provisional
(After Leg Three scoring gate)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 30 points
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING), 22.5 points
3. PUMA Racing Team (Ken READ), 20.5 points
4. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 17.5 points
5. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 17.5 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 15.5 points
7. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 8.5 points
8. Delta Lloyd (Roberto BERMUDEZ), 7.5 points*
*not yet passed scoring gate
Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org