News: Volvo Ocean Race – Ericsson 3 – Still In Control

March 22, 2009 by john
View large version of image: Volvo Ocean Race - Ericsson 3 - Still In Control

Image: Thumbs up from Ericsson 3 skipper Magnus Olsson on Volvo oceab race yacht Erisson 3

With a tantalizing 902 miles to race to the finish of the epic 12,300 nm journey that leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race has become, Magnus Olsson and his boys on Ericsson 3 is still in control of the fleet.  However, according to Green Dragon’s navigator, Wouter Verbraak, conditions on the racecourse are something of a minefield of light winds, erratic weather models and unexpected twists. 

At 1300 GMT today, Ericsson 3 was dealing with yet another high-pressure system, which was slowing their progress considerably. 
“Fighting against a front and staying in it has been on the agenda many times in this leg.  You may win a lot of miles by doing so, but if you fall short, the wind will back and you start to lose,” said Ericsson 3’s watch captain Thomas Johansson.  “We are humans and not robots, so we too start to feel tired and are especially fed up with these fights,” he added. 
Ericsson 4 (DTF 86 nm) and third-placed PUMA (DTF 205 nm) have followed almost in the wake of Olsson.  Over the past 24 hours, the margin between Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 has only reduced by one mile, while PUMA slipped back 12 miles.  The big loss, however, is for Green Dragon, who took an expensive detour to the west, losing the team 141 nm in the last 24 hours.  They now trail by 413 nm. 
“Yes, it is a real mess,” explained Green Dragon’s Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak.  “It was a case of take a big hit now, or stay east and take an even bigger one in 12 hours,” he said.   Earlier today, the team just missed a window in the high pressure that has drifted across the course.  PUMA was only five hours ahead of the Dragons and made it through, but Ian Walker’s team was swallowed up.  “It is hurting us badly,” said Verbraak ruefully.
A long way back down the track, the crew of Telefónica Blue is newly invigorated by their return to the Atlantic and spirits onboard are high.
“Today saw us make some gains on the guys in front,” wrote helmsman Simon Fisher.  “We managed to close the gap between us and the Green Dragons by about 100 miles,” he said.  This has given the team a little glimmer of hope of catching Ian Walker and also provides them with some fresh motivation to keep pushing hard. 
“As if wanting to get to Rio after over a month at sea wasn’t motivation enough,” Fisher said. 
Computer routing software is currently predicting a finish in the Maria Da Gloria, Rio, on Tuesday 24 March for Ericsson 3, with a safe lead of over 12 hours, however, there are still just over 900 miles to run and the weather Gods in Rio are renowned for throwing a curve ball at the last minute.
Leg Five Day 36: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(Boat Name/Country/Skipper/Nationality/Distance To Finish)
Ericsson 3 Swe (Magnus Olsson/Swe) Dtf 902 NM
Ericsson 4 Swe (Torben Grael/Bra) +86
Puma Racing Team Usa (Ken Read/Usa) +205
Green Dragon Irl/Chi (Ian Walker/Gbr) +413
Telefónica Blue Esp (Bouwe Bekking/Ned) +728
Delta Lloyd Irl (Roberto Bermudez/Esp) Dns
Telefónica Black Esp (Fernando Echávarri/Esp) Dns
Team Russia Rus (Andreas Hanakamp/Aut) Dns
Cape Horn Scoring Gate
(Boat/Date/Rounding Time/Gate Points)
Ericsson 3: 17.03.09 1222 Gmt: 4 Points
Ericsson 4: 17.03.09 1448 Gmt: 3.5 Points
Puma: 17.03.09 2046 Gmt: 3 Points
Green Dragon: 18.03.09 0215 Gmt 2.5 Points
Telefónica Blue: 19.03.09 1339 Gmt 2 Points

Please go to http://Www.Volvooceanrace.Org for more.

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