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Tense Time For Telefónica Blue
photo credit: Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race
Ericsson 3 with 25 degrees celsius in the air, the same in water, and 10-15 knots of wind, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston
The bleeding should have stopped by now. Telefónica Blue should be in good breeze and her margin increased to a safer distance from the hounds that are on her tail. She should have been looking ahead to a clear win in Boston.
However, nothing has gone according to plan. The Weather Gods are not playing fairly and Ericsson 4 is continuing to close. She has the bit between her teeth with Ericsson 3 equally focussed, but four miles behind. The gap is now a worrying 22 miles and there is only 1273 nm of runway left for Telefónica Blue to the finish in Boston.
photo credit: Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race
Ericsson 4 at sunset, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston
In a radio interview today, the skipper of Ericsson 4, overall race leader, Torben Grael, said, “Slowly but surely, we are eating into Telefónica Blue’s lead, and the race is now much more open. At the same time, we are having a good fight with Ericsson 3 and PUMA for second place. We are always within five to 10 miles of each other. We are all giving it our utmost to try to get that second spot. The position we have in the fleet obviously influences the mood on board, but it’s part of ocean sailing to concentrate at all times to do a good job and to have patience when things don’t go so well. “
Ahead, the weather is due to change. According to race meteorologist Jennifer Lilly, low pressure has been moving slowly over the east coat this week, leaving wet and cool conditions for the shore teams in Boston. This same low will move off the coast tomorrow and will pass over the fleet sometime on Friday giving gusty winds and squalls. If the fleet is near the Gulf Stream, it will cause rapidly building seas.
photo credit: Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Green Dragon, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston
According to Grael, this will mean a tack onto port, the first time since the fleet passed Cabo Frio at the start of the leg near Rio de Janeiro. “The poor boat has been on starboard tack the whole time! We will then have different wind, which will bring us some new opportunities.”
Speeds are high across the whole fleet, which routing software is predicting will finish in Boston on Sunday afternoon. Although the two Ericsson boats are still sailing a knot faster and recorded a 24-hour run of 419 against Telefónica Blue’s 410nm, the blue boat is still holding her own against the rest of the fleet.
“This race is hard. The boats are so similar in speed, between 5-10 miles of separation since Fernando de Noronha with two other boats, and that is very hard work,” concluded Grael.

Leg Six Day 12: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

1. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) DTF 1,273 nm
2. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +22nm
3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +26nm
4. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +42 nm
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +65nm
6. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) +70 nm
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +116 nm
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

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