News: Volvo Ocean Race Welcome To The Southern Ocean

March 16, 2009 by john
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The race is on to Cape Horn, and for Ericsson 3, keeping the chasing pack astern is becoming something of a problem.  They are closing, and closing quickly.

Today at 1300 GMT, Torben Grael’s Ericsson 4 had closed to within 33 nautical miles of stablemate Ericsson 3, who has led the leg since taking a brave northerly course after crossing the first scoring gate on day 19, 4 March.   But, it is Ian Walker’s Green Dragon, who is posting the fastest 24 hour run of 477 nm, knocking 58 nm out of Ericsson 3’s lead in the last 24 hours.  
Ericsson 3 has 854 miles to run to the Cape Horn scoring gate, where what looked like certain leader’s points a few days ago seem now to be in doubt.
The entire fleet is benefitting from some true southern ocean weather and is now making rapid progress towards the legendary Cape.  According to Ken Read from PUMA, the effect of low pressure has, for a change, done exactly as predicted and Ericsson 3 has been brought to heel as the chasing pack are now nipping at her heels.
Ken says, “As the low has come down through, it has spread out a bit and also slowed some, which has done two things.  It will make the entrance into the west side of the system much ore palatable, meaning we will be at much broader angles entering the system rather than the hard on the wind prediction that the weather forecasting was showing a few days ago.”
Onboard Ericsson 4, the team is grateful to be sailing in proper Southern Ocean conditions at last.  “The rookies must have been wondering if all those stories about it were true,” writes skipper Torben Grael.  “But now, with 1000 miles to go, it looks like we are going to have a good taste of it,” he added.
Meanwhile, from their position at the back of the fleet, the crew of Telefónica Blue is watching the action at the front as it unfolds.  The team has cleared the second ice waypoint and has gybed south to sail into better breeze, but they are in a different weather system from the leaders, who are just over 700 nm ahead.
 “Slowly, but surely the breeze has been building and now we are in a steady 25 knots, making good progress,” says skipper Bouwe Bekking. 
Of course, it is tempting, in these conditions to fly as much sail area as possible and push the boat to the limit, but, says Bekking, unless Telefónica Blue arrives in Rio in one piece, they will never beat the others.  They are limited to only a small jib once round the Horn, but, as Bekking says, “From Rio onwards we start with a clean sheet of paper as there are lots of points to be earned to the finish of the race. “
Once the fleet clears Cape Horn, which, contrary to popular belief is not just one Cape, but mass of small islands that litter the western side of Chile, the fleet will be say goodbye to the Southern Ocean until the next Volvo Ocean Race, and head north for good.
Leg Five Day 30: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) DTF 3111 nm
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +33
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +92
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +211
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +709
Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

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