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photo credit: Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race
It is still a hot port-gybe reach for the five boats engaged in the charge south during leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race. The fleet is currently 1200 nm north of New Ireland in the Solomon Islands, the area where the doldrums are lurking and light and shifty breeze await.

Top boat is Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA), with PUMA (Ken Read/USA) positioned neatly on her starboard hip, 45 nm to the northwest, but only 10 nm astern. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) has chosen the middle road, while Ian Walker still has Green Dragon in the east, 156 nm further east than PUMA.

photo credit: Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Bringing up the rear is Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED), who is ploughs a lonely furrow almost exactly the wake of Ericsson 3, but 267 nm behind Ericsson 4. Reaching, although rather monotonous, does have its advantages. There are no sails or gear to stack when the boat tacks, and it looks as if this will be the case for at least another week.

“The stack has stayed pretty much in place for the best part of a week, apart from a bit of carting it forward and aft to help the trim of the boat,” says Telefónica Blue’s Simon Fisher.

photo credit: Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race

The downside of reaching is the spray, which soaks the crew’s eyes with salt. “They get red and very sore,” explains Ericsson 3’s MCM, Gustav Morin. “We have helmets with eye protection and different kinds of goggles to protect them, but it’s tricky to see through the glass.”

Onboard Telefónica Blue, various fashion items have appeared to deal with the spray situation. “Whilst the majority have stuck with the trusty old surf helmet and visor, David Vera has mixed things up a little with a very fetching pair of safety goggles and Michael Pammenter is sporting a pair of scuba goggles. The latter, whilst looking a little ridiculous, seem to be pretty effective, although this was almost not the case, as, whilst getting them out of his bag, Mike managed to stamp on them, popping the lenses out,” said Simon Fisher.

Although the miles are clicking off nicely, around 2,000 nm already safely consigned to history, conditions for the fleet are, in the words of Ericsson 4’s watch captain, Brad Jackson, “wet, hot and manky,” – the ideal breeding ground for all sorts of nasty rashes and sores. “I am not looking forward to what Ryno (Ryan Godfrey), Nipper (Guy Salter) and Blood (Phil Jameson) start coming out with. Over the length of this leg, there could be some new varieties,” he said.
Hold that thought until 1300 GMT tomorrow.

photo credit: Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race

Leg Five Day 6: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions

(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 10,549 nm

2. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +10

3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +105

4. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +246

5. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +267

Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS

Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS

Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

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