VOR Report: Leg Five Day 39

As leg five draws out even further due to a complete lack of wind, the crews are longing for the finish in Rio and everything that it brings: results, families, cool beers, big steaks, showers, warm beds, and not necessarily in that order.
photo credit: Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race
Ericsson 3 in warmer waters on the home straight to Rio de Janeiro, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro

Ericsson 3 still holds her lead (DTF 424 nm) and although there have been a few blips in the last 24 hours, no one has taken any significant miles out of her deficit, and the chasing pair are due south of her. Ericsson 3 has only covered 172 nm in the past 24 hours and while Ericsson 4 has gained seven miles (DTL 65 nm) PUMA languishes a safe 154 nm astern.
photo credit: Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race
Brad Jackson driving at sunset, onboard Ericsson 4, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro

“The light airs are making are lives a mess,” wrote MCM Gustav Morin this morning. For many of the crew, their families will be arriving in Rio, and they wanted to be there to take care of them when they arrived. For others, the chance of returning home for a break are becoming slimmer as time runs out with each windless day.
“Since we are late in, most of the families will arrive before us and all the fathers onboard are talking more often about their kids and wives,” Morin says.
Jules Salter, the navigator on Ericsson 4, has almost lost track of the number of days he has been at sea, and he is frustrated with the weather maps, which only seem to make part sense. “When you expect a gain, you make a loss,” he says.
But, he warns, “inventing weather is ‘bad science’ and expecting to know more than the men and women in beige at the weather centres is pretty dumb, but you have to try and do something.”
“If your hokum theory lines up, you can make a plan for the next few hours. Usually the plan works for about two hours, then the wind shifts and drops and you are back to square one, trying to conjure up another scenario from your onboard observations.”
The real boat race now seems to be between becalmed Green Dragon (DTF 918nm) and the limping Telefónica Blue (DTF 983 nm), who has made a more sophisticated repair to the checkstays on the mast. The team is looking for a surprise ‘comeback’, reckoning that Green Dragon is fighting more current than the maps show.
photo credit: Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race
Phil Jameson at the clew of the spinnaker, onboard Ericsson 4, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro

“Right now they [Green Dragon] are still well ahead, but it will be a good laugh if we could actually manage to pass them,” said skipper Bouwe Bekking, who has closed to within 65 miles.
Unlike the other teams, who are rationing food and diesel, Telefónica Blue has been well provided for by MCM Gabriele Olivo, who even brought onboard a huge bag full of mature, three-year old parmesan cheese to add variety to the daily snacks as well as some grated pieces to make the freeze dried food more enjoyable.
Not a day has passed when leftover food has been thrown away and there is enough food for the team to have extra breakfasts if they want to, something that would be the envy of the rest of the fleet, if only they knew…
They do now!

Leg Five Day 39: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
1. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) DTF 424 nm
2. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +65
3. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +154
4. Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +494
5. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +559

Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

VOR Report: Leg Five Day 39 VOR Report: Leg Five Day 39 Reviewed by Panos Douros on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 Rating: 5

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