Fast, warm reaching is on offer today for the five-boat Volvo Ocean Race fleet as it races on through the Pacific Ocean on leg five, the longest leg of the course at 12,300 nm.
Ken Read is delighted that PUMA is able to keep in touch with race leader Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/USA), who is known to excel in fast reaching conditions. PUMA is only four miles behind Ericsson 4, making up four miles in the last 24-hours, and the pair is beginning to open up a substantial lead over the chasing three.
Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) is a safe 142 nm astern of Ericsson 4. Although they have added 63 nm to their deficit since 1300 GMT yesterday, it is still good enough for third place. In spite of the loss of miles to the leader, the atmosphere onboard is one of high spirits, as the team presses the boat as hard as they can.
The wind has been shifty and Gustav Morin MCM reports that it has been difficult to keep good speed and make the right choice of sails. “We have between 10 – 20 knots of wind and the angle has constantly been going back and forth from 30 to 55 degrees,” he said.
The two new crewmembers onboard Ericsson 3, Norwegian Arve Roaas and Sweden’s Magnus Woxen are blending well with the old crew and are enjoying racing the latest generation of Volvo Open 70. They are beginning to feel more comfortable about housekeeping rules such as knowing where to put their boots and socks while sleeping, and how to fit into a sleeping bag and climb up into a bunk, which has only 20cm headroom.
For Ian Walker’s Green Dragon, it has been a tough 24-hours and the team has paid a high price for its northerly position. They are now 207 nm adrift of the leading pair losing a further 82 nm in the past 24-hours. “We didn’t mean to be quite so far north, but we had a long period of light and lifted winds two days ago, that ushered us north,” explained Ian Walker. He said that the crew was very philosophical about the miles lost and that his team’s game plan of sailing, what they believe is the right way irrespective of other boats, will not change.
Late starter, Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) still has plenty of catching up to do. “We are slowly coming into better breeze, so we may be able to stop the bleeding soon, but we still aren’t seeing any major passing lanes,” explained navigator Tom Addis.
Although the last few days of sailing may not have offered an opportunity for tactical decisions, at least the miles are clicking down. The wind will steadily head the fleet, which will slowly curve down to the south to pick up the southeast trade winds.
Onboard PUMA, the goal is to meet up with the trade winds far enough to the east to prevent the boat from being hard on the wind. They will also try to position themselves to the east of some light air near the doldrums.
As the temperatures rise, shoes are being swapped for boots, thermals for shorts; and sun cream and sunglasses are making their first appearance. Life onboard the racing yachts has settled down after the first bumpy 36-hours.
Speeds hover between the 16 – 18 knot mark and the fastest 24-hour run belongs to PUMA at 442 nm, although Ericsson 4 has recorded a maximum boat speed of 26 knots.Leg
Five Day Five: 1300 GMT
Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 10886 nm
2. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +4
3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +142
4. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +207
5. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +284
6. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
7. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS