It is crunch time for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet as they head towards the Doldrums and ponder the best way through the shifting light patches and on towards the finish of leg two in Cochin, India.
The boats are still reaching north but the speeds are dropping and they are compressing as they approach the final 1,000 nautical miles of leg two.
(NED) on Telefónica Blue was contemplating the upcoming route last night with navigator Simon FISHER
(GBR) with differing opinions. The decision to tack was the subject of discussion, with FISHER for and BEKKING against. BEKKING won the day and it seems to have paid off as the blue boat has gained 22 miles in the last 24 hours on the leader Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL
FISHER explained, "To say the last 18 hours of my life have been stressful would be a bit of an understatement! Sailing or rather limping along with our busted wing (daggerboard) we found ourselves last night in all kinds of bother, with a massive header that we couldn't escape by sailing high, which had me biting me nails, pulling my hair out and staring at the computer screen in disbelief as the guys around us wound out massive amounts of easting.
"As Bouwe mentioned at one stage I was even looking at the option of tacking which probably in retrospect was a pretty ballsy option so it was good to have him there to try and counter the reasoning for doing one thing or another.
"Several hours on I am feeling slightly better about our position, at one stage it looked like we were headed to the bottom of the fleet by virtue of our westerly position but with some updated weather and now a little more breeze than expected the situation is looking slightly brighter."
The rest of the fleet have made gains over the past day on the leader, bar Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER
/SWE) who lost 2 miles to their sistership, but are still within striking distance, only 7 miles to the south. Word from the Nordic boat is that they are feeling the pressure as the end nears. "It is just as exciting as it is hard to cope with the stress that the competition creates. Some people have a hard time watching a game of soccer when the score is equal and there are just a few minutes to go. We are experiencing the exact same feeling. But we have been feeling it since the scoring-gate and we will probably have to cope with it until we reach the finish line in about four days."
PUMA (Ken READ
/USA) has held onto third over the past 24 hours with Green Dragon (Ian WALKER
/GBR) and Telefónica Blue jostling for fourth position gaining and losing to each other. At the 13:00 UTC position report Telefónica Blue had inched in front of the Dragon in the tables with the Spanish boat five miles closer to Cochin but 64 miles separating them east to west.
Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI
/ESP) is still the furthest west and lost sixth to Delta Lloyd (Roberto BERMUDEZ
/ESP), who has gained a massive 103 miles over the past 24 hours on the leader and jumped up from last place. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP
/AUS) have also gained on Ericsson 4, by 72 miles and have had a run of 419 miles in 24 hours.
As the boats slow and pick their way through the Doldrums the predicted time of arrival is moving back with the current ETA being early morning on Sunday 30 November.
Leg Two Day 11: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL
/BRA) DTF 1228 nm
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER
/SWE) + 7
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ
/USA) + 11
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER
/GBR) + 27
Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto BERMUDEZ
/ESP) + 95
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard - Provisional
(After Leg Two scoring gate)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL
), 18 points
2. Puma Il Mostro (Ken READ
), 14 points
3. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER
), 14 points
4. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING
), 12 points
5. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI
), 8.5 points
6. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER
), 8.5 points
7. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP
), 6.5 points
8. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE
), 4.5 points
Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org