Fighting for every inch, Telefónica Blue, skippered by Dutchman Bouwe BEKKING, crossed the finish line at the end of leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race to score an emphatic victory in Singapore on Monday 22 December at 14:51 UTC (22:51 local time).
It was among the closest finishes in the race history, with the top four boats finishing within 20 minutes following nearly 10 days of racing.
The Spanish team takes a valuable eight points towards their overall score, which now stands at 30.5 points, putting them into second place overall (subject to protest).
The 1,950 nautical mile leg, which started from Cochin, India, on 13 December, has been a leg of mental and physical torture for the crew, which took nine days, four hours, 51 minutes and 22 seconds to complete (09:04:41:22)
PUMA, led by Ken READ
(USA) claimed second, 17 minutes behind the Spanish team, (finish time 15:08 UTC) adding seven points to her tally, giving her a total of 27.5 points and third place overall. (Elapsed time: 09:05:08:01)
The final podium spot went to Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER
/SWE), who beat their teammates on Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL
/BRA) to take third, and a total of 23.5 points overall. (Finish time 15:09 UTC, elapsed time 09:05:09:48s)
Ericsson 4 was relegated to fourth place, adding five points to the four they earned for passing through the scoring gate a Palau We in first place. They still lead the race overall, but the margin has narrowed to just 4.5 points over Telefónica Blue. (Finish time 15:10:28 UTC elapsed time 09:05:10m28s).
After crossing the finish, Bouwe BEKKING
(NED) and his crew were ecstatic. Speaking from Telefónica Blue as they motored to Race Village at Sentosa Island and the waiting crowds and families, BEKKINg said, "It is a very sweet victory. Very special - just before Christmas - a nice little gift for us and very nice because all the families are here. It will be good to see all the happy faces when we get in."It was incredible for us. We were in the lead, then we lost it and then took it back again. In the final six or seven miles, the breeze died completely and the other guys got very close, then we got a little puff of breeze and I managed to bring her home.
"I have never seen the guys so happy. I have known them for quite a while and normally they are very cool, but they were just ecstatic when they went through the finish. It is a huge thing for us.
"I told the guys to take it easy as especially in this part of the race, the seas can change in half an hour, and then we sailed a really good race from that point on. We had a couple of really good shifts and, tactically, it went our way and the guys sailed very fast in light airs, which is was why we won. It shows that Ericsson 4 is not invincible and it is really good overall for the race itself."
READ on finishing second said, "I have never done anything like this before. Not really sure I want to do it again. Unbelievable. Hats off to the Telefónica guys, they did a nice job, congratulations. Nobody can remember the last time they either slept or ate. It has really been all hands on."
Anders LEWANDER, skipper of Ericsson 3, the Nordic team, said, "It's been so enormously tough - all of this leg…but it's been really amazing. I've really enjoyed it because of the close tactics and the mix of conditions. It's hard work but the close encounters and the whole situation on this leg has been really challenging.
"I must admit that on several occasions during this leg, I truly believed we were able to win. I'm really proud and happy about our achievement…this short gybing and close encounters is really good racing.
"The Malacca Strait was challenging with night sailing up the shoreline…then the line-up with the four of us in very variable, light wind conditions. It was a bit of a lottery situation. But it was important to keep in mind the big picture and not necessarily look just at the short term."
Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI
/ESP) was the next boat to finish to take fifth place, followed by Green Dragon, Kosatka Team Russia and finally Delta Lloyd.
The next action on the water will be on 10 January with the UBS Challenge for the In-Port Race, followed by the start of leg four from Singapore to Qingdao in China on 18 January.
Leg Three Finishing Order Singapore
1. Telefónica Blue: 8 points
2. PUMA : 7 points
3. Ericsson 3: 6 points
4. Ericsson 4: 5points
5. Telefónica Black: 4 points
6. Green Dragon: 3 points
7. Kosatka Team Russia: 2 points
8. Delta Lloyd: 1 points
Scoring Gate Order
1. Ericsson 4 (4 points)
2. Telefónica Blue (3.4 points)
3. Ericsson 3 (3 points)
4. PUMA (2.5 points)
5. Telefónica Black (2 points)
6. Green Dragon (1.5 points)
7. Kosatka Team Russia (1 point)
8. Delta Lloyd (0.5 points)
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard - Provisional
(After Leg Three - subject to protest)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 35 points
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING), 30.5 points
3. PUMA Racing Team (Ken READ), 27.5 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 23.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 20.5 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 19.5 points
7. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 10.5 points
8. Delta Lloyd (Roberto BERMUDEZ), 9 points
Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org