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Speed Is King As Temperatures Plummet
photo credit: Gustav Morin/Ericsson Racing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
After a slow get away from Qingdao in China on leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race (12,300 nm - the longest leg ever to be set in the history of the race), the wind has arrived on schedule and the first three boats are up, up and away. But, Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) who had barely two hours after crossing the finish of leg four yesterday to re-provision the boat, load sails and extra clothes, before crossing the start line just under seven hours after the official leg start, is hunting the leaders down in grand style.

Bouwe Bekking’s Telefónica Blue had a disaster on the start line yesterday after running aground, requiring Bekking to return to Qingdao and haul his boat out for inspection and immediate repair. The team resumed racing last night, 19 hours behind the fleet. At 1300 today, they were 202 nm in arrears, amounting to approximately nine hours in the current conditions.

photo credit: Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

The fleet is now being catapulted towards the southern tip of Japan at breakneck speed. Ken Read/USA onboard PUMA reported a steady boat speed of 30 knots earlier this morning in 27 knots of wind. For Telefónica Blue, the start was anything but slow, which was tough on the crew and Xabier Fernandez from Spain was seasick. In the first hour of racing, the crew made four sail changes and saw their first snowflakes.

The light airs in the initial stages of the leg helped Ericsson 3 to catch the leaders and during their first two hours of racing, they drew them in by 30 miles. “We really have to fight the cold at these speeds,” said MCM Gustav Morin. “It is really tough when the freezing water is spraying us all the time,” he explained.

photo credit: Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

At 1300 GMT today, the leader of the pack, Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) was 155 nautical miles from the southern tip of Japan south island and averaging a boat speed of 22 knots. PUMA was 20 nm behind her and in third place was Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) 44 nm behind Ericsson 4. Walker will be looking anxiously over his shoulder as Ericsson 3 has closed the margin to just six miles.

Ericsson 4 achieved the fastest 24-hour run of 415 nm.

Leg Five Day Two: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions

1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 12,076 nm
2. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +20
3. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +44
4. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +46
5. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +202
6. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
7. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

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