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29 October 2008, 02:49 pm
Ericsson 4 Sets New Monohull 24-Hour Distance Record
Brad JACKSON at the helm of Ericsson 4 as they set a new 24-hour distance record
Brad JACKSON at the helm of Ericsson 4 as they set a new 24-hour record

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

At 13:10 UTC today, Ericsson 4 skippered by Brazilian Torben GRAEL obliterated the 24-hour record run for a monohull when the team recorded a run of 593.23 nautical miles during leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The previous record (562.96 nm) was set by ABN AMRO TWO, with Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) as skipper, during leg two of the previous Volvo Ocean Race in 2006. The new mark is subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

PUMA (Ken READ/USA), in second place, has covered 561nm, just short of ABN AMRO TWO's record. The new mark translates into an incredible average speed of 24.71 knots in conditions not best suited for a record-setting run.

Skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA) and his crew have been pushing the boat hard all night, first eclipsing the previous mark at 03:55 UTC. They have been adding to the record since then, although the current 30 knots of wind is likely to ease.

"It is a great achievement, but we were not really looking for it," said GRAEL in a radio interview this morning. "What we were looking for was a good ride on this weather system, and to stay in it as long as possible."

GRAEL said: "We are doing 30 knots of boat speed. The wind is around 28-32 knots but the waves (around eight metres) are not very good for us. Conditions are marginal. I think we have been pretty much on the edge. Perhaps if we had a better sea state, we might be able to go faster, but it is hard to go faster with waves like this."

This will be the third time that Juan KOUYOUMDJIAN has produced a record-breaking design. The Argentinean was responsible for drawing the lines of the two ABN AMRO boats both of whom held the record in the previous edition of the race, as well as the current Ericsson 4.

For some days now the teams have been anticipating the possibility of a record-breaking run as they ride the current weather system, but concern over damage has led some to back off a little bit.

Simon FISHER (GBR), navigator of Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) paid tribute to GRAEL and the crew of Ericsson 4. FISHER was the navigator on ABN AMRO TWO when it set the previous record.

"We have been way too close to the edge too early and, consequently, had to throttle back whilst watching the leaders streaking off into the sunset with a new 24 hour record," FISHER wrote this morning. "Each position report has had the same frustrating story - more lost miles to the leaders. However at the same time it has been hard not to smile a little when you see the pace that Ericsson 4 has laid down. Deeply, deeply impressive to say the least. It is a shame to see our old record from ABN AMRO TWO go, but, at the same time, these things are made to be broken and those boys are certainly doing it with style."

Last night, Ian WALKER (GBR), skipper of third-placed Green Dragon, and a newcomer to this race, wrote: "This is insane. Thirty-five knots of wind, pitch black, 1500 miles from land and we are desperately trying to squeeze more speed from a boat that feels and sounds like it is going to self destruct any second." The boat is currently sailing at around 29 knots.

From Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT), navigator Wouter VERBRAAK (NED) says that on deck the spray-helmets are out and everybody on deck has their harness clipped on. "Below decks we are desperately trying to hang on in our bunks. The crashing, banging and squeaking of the rudders, the roaring of the water over the deck and the rushing of the water along the hull are just insane, and it is only when you put some music on your iPod that you can escape from this world of violence." Both Team Russia and Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE/IRL) have taken a dive south to reach the favourable westerlies.

At 13:00 today, Ericsson 4 was positioned slightly north of PUMA with Green Dragon behind them. Further north still is Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) with Telefónica Blue and Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) behind and to windward.

Telefónica Black has ripped two sails, which according to Media Crew Member Mikel PASABANT (ESP), made last night even harder, but the team was cheered to see their first Albatross, considered to be a good omen.

"Let's see what happens. He is a magic bird, the way he flies, without moving a single feather, effortless… amazing," described PASABANT.

Leg One Day 19: 13:15 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to leader)

Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL/BRA) DTF 1694
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ/USA) +34
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER/GBR) +76
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) +113
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) +145
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) +155
Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O'ROURKE/IRL) +315
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT) +337

Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard*
(After Leg One Scoring Gate)

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

*Provisional standings

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

Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org

Lizzie Ward
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