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13 October 2008, 04:43 pm
Telefónica Blue Rejoins The Volvo Pack
Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe BEKKING onboard as the team return to racing after pulling in overnight to make repairs
Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe BEKKING onboard as the team return to racing after pulling in overnight to make repairs

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Ericsson 4 continues to lead leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race but light winds have brought the chasing pack back into contention and minimized the damage done to Telefónica Blue during their pit-stop for repairs.
It hasn't exactly been a mad dash out of the Mediterranean for the Volvo fleet and the wind has dropped to 8-10 knots. The boats are sailing downwind, but not at heart-stopping speeds, just four knots of boat speed for the leader, Ericsson 4/SWE (Torben GRAEL (BRA)).

But this is good news for Bouwe BEKKING (NED) and his crew on the Spanish yacht Telefónica Blue, which took a 12-hour penalty last night and made pit stop in Algeciras, on the western side of the Bay of Gibraltar to repair their steering. They resumed racing this morning at 06:53 UTC. At 13:00 today, BEKKING's team still had relatively good breeze and while the rest of the fleet was meandering along at four knots, Telefónica Blue was still able to manage eight.

"How do I feel?" asks BEKKING. "Not very happy," he answers himself, but he's happy to carry on and see if the team can claw back the lost miles. "There's a long way to go and we know we can get back to full speed now," he added.

The replacement of the carbon arms that work the rudder system was a swift operation for the shore crew who had travelled down from Alicante to meet the boat.

Leaders of the pack, Ericsson 4, is out on her own, 76 nautical miles off the Casablanca lighthouse on the Moroccan coast, sailing west northwest, while most of the chasing pack is close together, covering every move or sail change.

PUMA/USA (Ken READ (USA)), Telefónica Black/ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI (ESP)), Ericsson 3/SWE (Anders LEWANDER (SWE)) and Green Dragon/IRL/CHI (Ian WALKER (GBR)) are all in sight of each other and it is pleasant sailing in 8-10 knots of breeze under a shining sun. Today, life is good for the team on Ericsson 4 although progress towards the Equator is slow. It could be another day before the leaders start to enjoy the 'champagne sailing' associated with the trade winds.

"Jules [SALTER (GBR)] and Torben [GRAEL] did nice work getting us in a good position to Gibraltar where we parked up for a while, but again, when the fleet closed in on us, we managed to get a small jump near the African coast," wrote Ericsson 4 watch captain Brad JACKSON, who says his favourite leg is leg one.

According to WALKER, in charge Green Dragon, everyone is being very 'cagey' about their positions. "Telefónica Black and PUMA seem to be very fast downwind in the light and they have consistently sailed away from us. We will have to be patient and hope our turn comes," he said.

The Russian boat, Kosatka (Andreas HANAKAMP (AUT)) blew out their new big spinnaker on the first night. The great sail gave way right in the middle leaving one half flying from the top of the mast and the other just above the water, barely connected. All the pieces were retrieved and the crew got to work with the sewing machine to make the repair.

The team on Delta Lloyd/IRL (Ger O'ROURKE (IRL)) is still getting to know their boat. "Our boat is performing fantastically well and our entire crew tips our hats to our shore crew who did a miraculous job getting the boat ready for leg one," wrote American navigator Matthew GREGORY.

Meanwhile, as the fleet continues to make slow progress, the Green Dragon team gybed and were joined briefly today by a stowaway passenger. "We had a Robin living in the galley for a few hours, but we have lost him and nobody saw him leave. The last sighting was of him flying aft towards the nav station. Hopefully he flew away for all our sakes," the skipper said.

Leg One Day 3: 13:30 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(Boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to leader)

Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL/BRA) 6067 nm to finish
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ/USA) DTL 3nm
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) DTL 3nm
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) DTL 5nm
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER/GBR) DTL 8nm
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT) DTL 19nm
Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O'ROURKE/IRL) DTL 48nm
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) DTL 90nm

Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard
(After In-Port race 1)

1. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING/Iker MARTINEZ), 4 points
2. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 3.5 points
3. Puma Il Mostro (Ken READ), 3 points
4. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 2.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 2 points
6. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE), 1 point
7. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 0.5 points*
8. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 0.5 points

*one point has been deducted from the Ericsson 3 score as per the jury decision number JN04 2 October.

Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Volvo Ocean Race -

Lizzie Ward
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