News: Day 25 Volvo Ocean Race: Hard Driving As Ericsson 3 Extends Lead

March 11, 2009 by john
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Magnus Olsson / SWE and his team are fully focussed on driving Ericsson 3 hard through the grey/green Southern Ocean, straight towards the western end of the second ice gate. They are expected to cross in a little over 24 hours.  Their lead is now 272 nm ahead of Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) and the deficits among the fleet are now the highest seen so far in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The leading trio, Ericsson 3, Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) and PUMA (Kenny Read/USA) are rattling east-southeast, set up to cross the gate at the western end from north to south, while the two southerly boats, Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) and Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) will clip the eastern end. 

However, one by one, the boats are dropping off the conveyor belt that is carrying them towards Cape Horn and the talk onboard the chasing pack is of Ericsson 3 slowing down too and the hope of clawing back lost miles. While Ericsson 3 is still averaging 22 knots, the rest of the fleet are now down to 20 knots or less. 

At 48 degrees south, Telefónica Blue now races in a different weather system and there is significant risk that they will take a lot longer for the team to reach the ice gate.

In their path is a ridge of high pressure, which will require dramatic action and the next 12 hours will be critical.  The team has managed to make a new repair to the temporary patch on their mainsail, which had led the team to sail with the mainsail reefed. 

Onboard Green Dragon, just one degree further south, but 176 nm ahead of the blue boat, Ian Walker has his eyes on the seven day forecast and what might be in store for the team when they reach the infamous Cape Horn, a place that he has never been.

“One thing seems certain, it is going to be a very windy, fast, cold blast reach to the Horn in a few days time,” he says.  Weather forecasts are indicating a windy rounding of between 35 – 50 knots of breeze. 

Walker has surrounded himself with experienced crew; the two Irishmen, Damian Foxall and Justin Slattery, together with Neal McDonald/GBR are all Cape Horn veterans and know very well what could be in store, but he still finds himself monitoring the weather forecast day by day. 
At 1300 GMT today, Ericsson 3 had extended her lead by another 64 nm since 1300 GMT yesterday, recording a 24-hour run of 500 nm.  The team now has less than 5,000 nm to run to the finish in Rio in this 12,300 nm leg, which started in Qingdao, China 25 days ago.
Leg Five Day 25: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) DTF 4,762 nm
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +272
PUMA USA (Ken Read/USA) +329
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +475
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +651
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 by email; however, positions are updated every three hours on where you will also find the latest news, feature stories, images and video. 

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