Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ericsson 3 first to round Cape Horn

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Magnus Olsson and his team of Nordic sailors onboard Ericsson 3 rounded the legendary Cape Horn at 1222 GMT today in pole position and in daylight, gaining maximum points at the scoring gate.

Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) will be the next boat to round the Cape, which marks the border between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. At the time of Ericsson 3’s rounding, Ericsson 4 was 36 miles astern, a gap that has now closed to 18nm.

“It looks like the Ericsson 3 boys have managed to hold us off – and fair play to them – they played a good move early after the last scoring gate, a move which none of the rest of us were brave enough to play,” said Ericsson 4’s MCM Guy Salter.

For every sailor, the achievement of rounding this notorious Cape, which is the tip of one small island with a lighthouse, situated in one of the most remote areas in the world, is never diminished, no matter how many times they do it.

Spain’s Guillermo Altadill, who has rounded the Cape six times, describes the experience:

“I can only imagine it must be similar to a marathon runner on arrival at the stadium, with only 400 metres left after his epic 26 miles, to look up and see the public awaiting him. Except that, on that rock there is no public. And when you are lucky enough to get close enough, and on a clear day, you look up at that black rock with its lighthouse and all the legends that surround it, and it makes you think that whatever happens from that moment onwards, you have fulfilled your objective: to arrive in one piece.”

For Ericsson 3, Cape Horn almost lived up to its notorious reputation, producing 25 knot winds and massive seas, but Ericsson 4 is expecting full storm conditions when they round next in line. The crew is looking forward to it.

“There has been a chat about rights earned for passing the Horn: earrings, feet on the table at meal times, and tattoos of tall ships under full sail,” says Salter in anticipation.

All Ericsson 3 has to do now is to turn north and keep the fleet at bay. No easy task, when the skipper of the chasing Ericsson 4, Torben Grael, is one the golden boys in Olympic sailing and close quarter, tactical racing is what he excels at. They now face a long battle of over 2,000 nm to the finish in Rio.

Cape Horn Scoring Gate
(boat/rounding time/gate points)

Ericsson 3: 1222 GMT: 4 points

Distance to Cape Horn at 1222 GMT
Ericsson 4 - 36.91nm
PUMA - 141.21 nm
Green Dragon - 229.49 nm
Telefónica Blue- 766.86 nm

Leg Five Day 32: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) DTF 2264 nm
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +18
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +119
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +210
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +746

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