Monday, April 13, 2009

Southeasterly winds quicken pace of VOR fleet

[Source: Ericsson Racing Team] After a slow start to Leg 6, the pace has quickened for Ericsson Racing Team and the Volvo Ocean Race fleet.

With the wind from the east/southeast and blowing between 9 and 13 knots, a pack of four boats is within 60 nautical miles of the Brazilian coastline and giving chase to the fleet leader.

The pack includes Ericsson 4 and Ericsson 3, as well as Puma and Telefónica Black. They’re all on starboard tack and enjoying the better conditions after a slow first 24 hours.

“Everyone is starting to settle back into the routines onboard,” said Ericsson 4 media crewman Guy Salter. “To be honest, the boat routine is normal and on land is the oddity as our time ashore in the last few months has been comfortably in the minority.

“We are plowing along now at what seems to be break neck speeds (or at least after the first 28 hrs), 14 knots seems like potential passing out/nose bleed speed similar to the first few days that Stephenson's ‘Rocket’ hit the track,” Salter said, referring to an steam locomotive of the early 19th century.

The scoring gate at Ilha de Fernando de Noronha is just over 1,000 miles away, and all yachts in the fleet are making a course within 10 degrees of its bearing.

Ericsson 4 trails Telefonica Blue by 16 nautical miles on the leaderboard, but is about 22 miles to leeward and behind. Ericsson 3 is just a couple of miles to leeward of its teammate.

Eivind Melleby repairing a sail on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. 13 April 2009. Photo copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race

Along with the light winds of the first night was a large swell that rolled the yachts back and forth. Aboard Ericsson 3, the crew was frustrated that the rolling punctured the masthead Code Zero headsail.

“In light breeze we usually try to sail with our masthead zero as much as possible, but in the big swells it’s risky business,” said Gustav Morin, the media crewman aboard Ericsson 3.

“The sails are flapping dramatically and sometimes the zero hits the spreaders so badly it causes rips. That happened a couple of times, and our sailmaker Martin Strömberg has had a lot on his mind,” Morin said.

Strömberg was able to fix the sail with repair tape and the crew hopes the sail won’t be compromised.

“To get four rips in the zero the first night of racing is like buying a brand new Porsche and hitting the side barriers the first thing you do,” said watch captain Richard Mason.

(At 1301 GMT, Apr. 13, 2009)
1. Telefónica Blue, 4,554 nautical miles to finish
2. Delta Lloyd, +13 NM
3. Ericsson 4, +16 NM
4. Ericsson 3, +17 NM
5. Puma, +18 NM
6. Telefónica Black, +19 NM
7. Green Dragon, +30 NM

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