Monday, April 27, 2009

Ericsson 4 wins Leg 6 of Volvo Ocean Race; Ericsson 3 finishes second

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Ericsson Racing Team continued its dominance of the Volvo Ocean Race today when Torben Grael/BRA/Ericsson 4 and Magnus Olsson/SWE/Ericsson 3 finished first and second on leg six from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Boston, USA.

The two Ericsson teams shared the same top two positions on the previous leg from Qingdao in China to Rio, but in that case, Ericsson 3 came out on top.

Today, Ericsson 4 crossed the finish at 2105 GMT (1605 local) recording an elapsed time of 15 days, 10 hours 30 minutes and 54 seconds.

Skipper Torben Grael said: “It feels fantastic. I think we had a very good leg. We were always very close to the other boats.

“I think it was very important when we gybed a few days ago. After that, there were not many options. We just managed to keep the front, which was not easy.

“Even here at the end, when it looked like it was OK, the wind was very light with sea breeze fighting the land breeze. It was a very hard job, but a very good result for us. It couldn't be better. It's one more step towards our objective. Normally, regattas in the United States give me luck. This is another one of them.”

Ericsson 4 and 3 finish 1st and 2nd respectively. Boston, 27 April 2009. Video copyright Ericsson Racing Team

British navigator Jules Salter added, “It was very hard work, probably the hardest, but we had a lot of luck to get this win. People talk about strategy and reading books, but I think it comes down to luck. We knew our sails and our crew work was good, but it was never certain until we were over the finish. I’ve had 30 minutes sleep in the past day. Really, the whole leg has been a bit like that.”

A fearsome battle played out in the closing stages of the leg to decide the points for second place, which culminated in Ericsson 3 taking second, finishing at 2117 GMT, just over five minutes ahead of Telefónica Blue (2123 GMT), after 4,900 nm and nearly 16 days of ocean racing. It was a particularly remarkable achievement for Ericsson 3, whose skipper Magnus Olsson was washed into the steering pedestal on day six, 16 April, and was nursing a bruised back.

“Of course we are really happy,” said the skipper when he stepped ashore. “My back is not too bad, the pain at the beginning was a lot, but my crew did all the work. Telefónica Blue was coming in from behind and we kept watch on them. We have all had our problems and Ericsson 4 didn’t have a watermaker, but we wouldn’t have beaten them, but maybe next time,” he added.

A relieved Bouwe Bekking said on finishing third: “We had a really good come back after two horrible days. Passing PUMA and nearly catching Ericsson 3 was great. It has been fantastic and it is really nice to be back here. We have had some shocking times, but we have come back to a real high”.

Scoring 3.5 points for second place at the scoring gate of Fernando de Noronha and eight points for a leg win, Ericsson 4 extends her overall lead to 77.5 points. Telefónica Blue moves up to second overall with 64.5 points, only half a point ahead of PUMA provided she finishes in her current position of fourth. Ericsson 3 has a total of 53 points, which is good enough for fourth place on the overall leaderboard.

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