Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ericsson 4 and 3 lead the Volvo Ocean Race; fleet compresses

[Source: Ericsson Racing Team] The fleet on Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race has seen some compression from the back of the fleet forward over the past 12 hours. Where there was a 214-nautical-mile gap between first and eighth yesterday afternoon, at 0100 GMT this morning that gap was down to 180 miles.

The International crew on Ericsson 4 continued to lead the fleet, 1,230 nautical miles from the finish. Their teammates on Ericsson 3 were virtually in sight, just 3 miles behind on their starboard, windward, quarter.

The two Ericsson crews have been at the head of the fleet since clearing the scoring gate last Thursday, and since Saturday they’ve rarely been separated by more than 8 nautical miles.

“It’s been a pretty wet 24 hours aboard the good ship Ericsson 4!” bowman Phil “Blood” Jameson said yesterday afternoon. “We’ve been sailing along making a very high average boatspeed. Not quite record pace, but very close. We have a wind angle of roughly 100 degrees. Anything in that sort of region means some serious fire hosing on deck!”

Besides being occupied with each other, the Ericsson crews also have a charging fleet to fend off. At the 0100 position report, Puma was 27 nautical miles behind, having gained 17 miles in the past 12 hours. Telefónica Blue was 35 miles behind, a gain of 16 miles. Green Dragon, in fifth, halved its 72-mile deficit to 36.

Boatspeeds had slowed to an average around 17 knots, down from the 20-knot power reaching of the past two days. The next hurdle for the fleet is the Doldrums, roughly positioned betgween 03S and 05S latitude. At 0100, fleet leader Ericsson 4 was approximately 325 nautical miles away at 10S.

“The fleet will start to compress a bit overnight, and we may awake (Tuesday) with a much closer, but slower race in progress,” said team meteorologist Chris Bedford. “The lead of Ericsson 4 and Ericsson 3 over the competition is not big. The next two days will be critical.”

(Nov. 25, 2008, 0100 GMT)
1. Ericsson 4, 1,230 nautical miles to finish
2. Ericsson 3, 3 NM to leader
3. Puma, 27 NM to leader
4. Telefónica Blue, 35 NM to leader
5. Green Dragon, 36 NM to leader
6. Telefónica Black, 94 NM to leader
7. Delta Lloyd, 149 NM to leader
8. Kosatka, 180 NM to leader

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