On stepping ashore in Cochin, skipper GRAEL said, "I am very happy to be here. The trip had a lot of very difficult conditions, cold and wet and the light Doldrums. We had many breakdowns, but we got to the gate in a good position and of course, we are very happy to be here in first place after a hard few days and to get a good result."
The Spanish Telefónica Blue team, led by Bouwe BEKKING (NED), finished just under 12 hours later to score second place on the leg, a great achievement for the team who were dogged by serious damage to their daggerboard. Telefónica Blue pick up seven points for their second place finish, helping them jump from fourth to second on the race leaderboard.
After the difficulties with their daggerboard, the team's fortunes swung when they opted for a westerly route through the Doldrums and made big gains on the rest of the fleet.
"It is a fantastic result. The decision to go west looked like it wasn't going to pay off; it was more luck than judgement," admitted navigator Simon FISHER (GBR). "The decision was made for us because of the damage to the daggerboard and it looked quite dark for a while, but it worked out nicely in the end."
Skipper BEKKING added , "It was really fantastic to come second, but it was bloody hard. The 'no wind' was tricky, but I suppose the locals are used to it, but this afternoon was difficult. We were always hoping for a first, but second is still a good result. The last 18 hours as hugged the shore, so we have seen quite a bit of the Indian coastline, the lovely views and beautiful beaches."
Ericsson 3, skippered by Anders LEWANDER (SWE), crossed the finishing line on Monday morning to claim third place on the leg. This is the second time Ericsson 3 has crossed the finish line in third place, however, in Cape Town, the team was docked two points for racing with a non-compliant keel. A new, rule-compliant keel was subsequently fitted and this time the team will be able to celebrate third place properly. The podium finish comes after crossing the scoring gate in second place, which gained the team a further 3.5 points.
Magnus OLSSON (SWE), watch captain and six-race veteran said, "It's very good to be here in third. We had great oatspeed and we can get better, we just need to be more aggressive in our tactics. We think we deserve third place and would like to congratulate Ericsson 4 and Telefónica Blue."
The next four boats, Telefónica Black, Delta Lloyd, PUMA and Green Dragon, are very close together and all approximately 50nm from the finish. If Green Dragon or PUMA can gain a fourth place finish on the leg they will move on to 19 points and into a tie with Telefónica Blue for second place on the overall leaderboard.
The 4,450nm leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race, which started from Cape Town, South Africa on 15 November took GRAEL and his men 14 days, 11 hours, 32 minutes and 30 seconds (elapsed time 14:11:32:30). Adding the four points the team collected for passing through the leg two scoring gate (the line of longitude 58 degrees east which the fleet had to pass from east to west anywhere south of the latitude 20 degrees south), to the eight points for a leg win, boosts the team's overall score to 26 points.
British navigator, Jules SALTER, said, "It's a relief that we are here. Light airs prove to be more trouble than heavy, and it was hard trying to work out what was going on, but it came good in the end. This afternoon was very difficult to work out where the land breeze was coming from but, luckily, it came and it's great to be here."
It was a dramatic first week to this leg, when the fleet headed south from Cape Town into the Southern Ocean to pick up the strong westerly winds, which would propel the boats quickly towards the scoring gate. Many of the eight-strong fleet suffered damage in the big and confused seas caused by the Algulhas current, a notoriously rough stretch of water.
Ericsson 4 had their fair share of broaches, blown out sails, downtime and bad luck, and for most of week one, GRAEL was happy to keep Ericsson 4 rumbling along in the middle of the pack, often behind sister ship, Ericsson 3.
It was on day eight, 22 November, once the fleet had passed through the gate and started to point north, that Ericsson 4 moved into the top position. There were still 2,239 miles to the finish, and Ericsson 3 was just three miles behind.
On day nine, the 13:00 UTC position report showed Ericsson 4 seven miles behind Ericsson 3 again. Twenty-four hours later GRAEL again had a tenuous lead, but the breeze ahead had slowed and the fleet was starting to compress.
Ericsson's big move came on day 12. The group of four boats, Ericsson 4, Ericsson 3, PUMA (Ken READ/USA) and Green Dragon (Ian WALKER/GBR), who had all chosen the middle lane through the Doldrums, were still tightly packed when Ericsson 4 disappeared into a well-positioned rain shower. She emerged 48nm ahead of Ericsson 3 and sailing at twice the speed of anyone else. The rest of the group could only watch, as they sat, practically becalmed.
The only challenger to Ericsson 4's lead from that moment was a late attack by Telefónica Blue, who was forced, by damage to their daggerboard, to choose the westerly route to pass through the Doldrums. On day 14, Telefónica Blue had closed the gap, but was still a comfortable 111 nautical miles behind Ericsson 4. Still closing today, the Spanish team finally ran out of runway, and Ericsson 4 claimed a second and momentous victory.
Leg Two Day 17: 07:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL/BRA), FINISHED
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING/NED), FINISHED
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER/SWE), FINISHED
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) DTF 48 nm
Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto BERMUDEZ/ESP) +6
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ/USA) +6
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT) +448
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER/GBR), STEATHPLAY
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard - Provisional
(After Leg Two)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 26 points
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING), 19 points
3. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 14.5 points
4. Puma Il Mostro (Ken READ), 14 points*
5. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 14 points*
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 8.5 points*
7. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 6.5 points*
8. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE), 4.5 points*
* still racing on leg two
Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
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