Ericsson 4 takes leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race
[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Ericsson 4 again took maximum points this morning when she crossed the finish of Volvo Ocean Race leg seven in Galway in first position. She finished at 0054 GMT today after taking seven days, 10 hours, 33 minutes and 51 seconds to sail across the North Atlantic from Boston.
A huge and very excited Saturday night crowd was on the dockside, principally waiting to celebrate the arrival of Green Dragon, their hometown boat, but Ericsson 4 benefitted from a raucous welcome as they drew alongside.
After fighting his way ashore, Brazilian skipper Torben Grael said:
“It's nice to get first place. It's another big step towards our goal, so we're pretty happy about it.”
Ericsson 4 crosses the finish of leg 7 in first place. Galway, 24 May 2009. Photo copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race
The North Atlantic threw everything it could at the seven-strong fleet, which revelled in the fast downwind conditions. Many of the crews have declared the sailing on this leg as the best they have ever experienced and there was plenty to contend with. Thick fog, a myriad of lobster pots followed by a whale exclusion zone, a scoring gate – which Ericsson 4 rounded in third place – and an ice exclusion zone to negotiate all added to the mix before the high-speed drag race to the finish, which proved to be a nail-biting thriller.
Reflecting on Ericsson 4’s leg, Grael said, “The beginning was tough. There was a big decision once we realised we couldn't get the first two positions at the gate, so we positioned ourselves for the rest of the leg.
“Then when we got this big front, we split from the fleet, which worked out well, but it was risky and it was a rough ride in. We had to push it to have a good position, so it was tough.
Ericsson 4 sailed the first half of this leg conservatively, only rising to the top of the pack on 19 May, day four. The remainder of the leg was spent either in first or second place, with the exception of a blip on day six when the team dropped briefly to fourth place.
“It's always a matter of risk against return,” said Grael today. “If you think it's worth running the risk, you take it. That's the game. We were conservative at times on this leg but took some big risks as well.”