Saturday, June 20, 2009

Final VOR in-port race on Sunday in Stockholm

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The Volvo Ocean Race fleet will take to the waters off Stockholm on Sunday afternoon for the seventh and final in-port race day of the event, and like many of the others, the forecast is for light winds.

The teams are racing on a body of water called Kanholmsfjärden, about 25 miles from the race village in Stockholm. That will make for an early start for the sailors; the fleet will leave the dock in Stockholm by 07:30 local time to get to the race area in time. Racing is scheduled to start at 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT), with two races on the cards.

While Ericsson 4 has mathematically locked up the overall race title, the battle for second place is still alive. PUMA has built a seven-point margin over Telefónica Blue, after the Blue boat ran aground and finished in last place in leg nine. But, with 12 points still available between now and the race finish in St. Petersburg, the battle is still alive.

Telefónica Blue has the best record of all the teams in the in-port race series, including wins in Rio de Janeiro and Boston, along with second place in Galway. But the winner in Ireland was PUMA. So, with the leaderboard the way it is, Telefónica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking is expecting some special attention from PUMA.

"We will see. They will probably try and sail us to the back of the fleet, but they are so comfortable (with the seven-point lead)," he said. "We are just trying to win and see where we end up. If they want to make it a match race, it is still very tricky with other boats around."

The forecast is for light winds in the morning, with a sea breeze forecast to build near 10 knots by race time. Bekking says anything between five and 15 knots is possible on the day.

It will be a special race day for the two Ericsson boats as well, sailing in home waters. Ericsson 4 is sailing with the same 11 core crewmembers it has used for every leg and in-port race to this point. And, for Ericsson 3's Nordic crew, the opportunity to sail in front of a home crowd is sure to be inspiring.



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