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News: Leg Five Daily Story: Grinding Down The Opposition

February 18, 2009 by john
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The Volvo fleet is heading east and Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) has taken a more easterly course than the others have.  Why are they not taking the straighter route towards New Zealand?  Stu Bannatyne, watch captain onboard the leading boat, Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) says the answer is simple really:

“These Volvo Open 70s like the wind to be free so we can sail fast angles and really keep the boat moving along at wind speed or higher.  To this end, we are using the northerly winds we now have to make some miles to the east before we join up with the north-east trade winds in a few days time.  If it all pans out, then, by the time we are headed, we will have enough of an easterly position to head south and keep the boat sailing the fast angles that it loves.  This should enable us to reach the scoring line at 36 degrees south a lot sooner than taking the direct route.”
But, why has Ian Walker/GBR decided to take Green Dragon even further to the east?  Walker and his new navigator, Team Russia’s Wouter Verbraak from Holland, have held a more northerly course for most of the past 24 hours, and now they are 60 miles due north of Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE), and 120 miles to the north-west of the Ericsson 4. Mark Chisnell goes into the minutiae in today’s TEN ZULU report.
As the fleet continues to blast reach, the breeze has dropped slightly and the temperatures are rising.  For Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) it is just a question of grinding down the opposition and not being tempted into taking short cuts.  The team has set their big spinnaker and reports a grey sky.  “Reaching is a bit boring for most of us, but it means good mileage in the right direction,” Bekking said.
It might be dull for those on deck, but for the media crew members, whose responsibility it is to manage the onboard media, life is easier when the boat is not bouncing about.  Added to that, there is a bit of rocket science going on up above the fleet, which has given them a bit of ‘time out’.
Rick Deppe/GBR, MCM onboard second placed PUMA explains the reason:
“Race sponsor, Inmarsat, who operates the satellite technology and provides the communications and data transfer services to the race, is having a bit of a re-organisation up in space,” he said.
“Inmarsat recently launched a new satellite which has allowed them to re-position some of the other satellites in their network and which will result in a better overall service to users. However, in the short term it causes a 10-day outage for us here on our little Volvo 70s in terms of being able to get media off the boats. 
“We do have a back up system onboard.  The Fleet 33 allows us a more stripped down service which can be used for voice, text and smaller data files.  The more powerful Fleet 500 system will come back online on 24 February and this will allow us to start sending the video and full resolution pictures that everyone has come to expect.”
Gustav Morin, Ericsson 3’s MCM, says that due to the satellites being unavailable, he is living in luxury.  Describing his life onboard, he said:  “I still take photos and do video and editing, so that I will have material ready to send when the satellites get back in business, but there is no stress.  I had a six-hour nice sleep, woke at five and made porridge for the guys as usual.  Then I indulged myself with some muesli with pieces of fresh orange and pear (we still have some fruit onboard and it is a fantastic contrast to the freeze-dried stuff).  After that, I ‘worked from home’ for a couple of house, which means I was sitting in my bunk with the laptop in my lap.”
In the last 24-hours, there has been no change to the order of the fleet, however, PUMA (Ken Read/USA) has closed the deficit by half and is hanging on to Ericsson 4’s coat tails by just eight nautical miles.  Conversely, Ericsson 3 has slipped back and is now 79 nm behind the leader, losing 16 miles in the last 24-hours.  Green Dragon has faired even worse and is now 125 nm behind, but this may look worse than it actually is due to their easterly position.  Telefónica Blue has made a small gain of four miles.  The fastest 24-hour run of 455 nm goes to Ericsson 4.
Leg Five Day Four: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 11305 nm
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +8
Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +79
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +125
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +193
Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS
Race reports are issued daily to the media at 1300 GMT (1000 GMT Saturdays) by email; however, positions are updated every three hours on http://www.volvooceanrace.org where you will also find the latest news, feature stories, images and video.  Full press information can be read and downloaded from: http://press.volvooceanrace.org 

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