Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Ericsson 4 celebrate their win into Boston. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.
by Victoria Low
Ericsson Racing Team Sunday afternoon finished first and second here on Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race. The 4,900-nautical mile leg began in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Apr. 11.
The two crews finished 12 minutes apart as thousands of spectators lined Fan Pier to watch the arrival on a warm spring afternoon that suddenly turned cool.
Ericsson 4, the overall race leader skippered by Brazil's two-time Olympic gold medalist Torben Grael, finished at 2105 GMT (1705 local) and won the leg with an elapsed time of 15 days, 3 hours, 5 minutes and 10 seconds.
It was the third leg win for Ericsson 4, which also won Legs 1 and 2. Ericsson 4 added 8 points to its scoreline and now has 77.5 points. The International crew is 13 points ahead of Spanish yacht Telefónica Blue, which placed third on the leg.
"It's fantastic to be here in America. We had a very good leg," said Grael, who placed third in the previous Volvo Ocean Race, 2005-'06. "It's one more step towards our objective. Normally, regattas in the States give me luck, so this is another one of them."
Ericsson 3 celebrate their second place. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.
Ericsson 3, skippered by six-time race veteran Magnus Olsson of Sweden, finished second with an elapsed time of 16 days, 3 hours, 17 minutes and 58 seconds. Ericsson 3 earned 7 points and is placed fourth overall with 53 points.
"We are so happy with second," said Olsson, the 60-year-old skipper. "And here is America!"
Ericsson 4 and Ericsson 3 also placed first and second on the previous leg that finished in Rio de Janeiro last month, but that time Ericsson 3 got the better of its race-leading teammate. Ericsson 3 threatened to steal another victory from Ericsson 4 as recently as 24 hours from the finish, but Ericsson 4 was determined to score its third leg win of the race.
"That seems to be a thing with this race. You get ahead and the invisible hand pushes you back when the guys behind bring up the new breeze," said Ericsson 4 trimmer Tony Mutter. "They came right up to half mile behind. But last night we were able to sail away by about 7 or 8 miles."
Both boats encountered some breakdowns and injuries along the way. Ericsson 4's water maker broke three days ago, leaving them with a reverse osmosis hand pump to make water for coffee and cooking the freeze-dried meals. The crew eagerly devoured fast-food burgers and soda upon arrival in Boston.
On Ericsson 3, a halyard shackle broke about four days ago, and the crew lost the asymmetric spinnaker it was attached to when the sail fell into the water and under the boat. But it was an injury to their skipper that nearly derailed Ericsson 3's leg.
Olsson injured a rib 10 days ago when he was swept into the guard rail around the starboard helmsman's station. He was in his bunk and administered ibuprofen tablets. Soon after the injury it appeared he might have to be removed from the yacht, but Olsson was determined to finish the leg.
Ericsson 3 approaches Boston to finish second. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
"These guys are doing great job. It's a big, big change since the last time I was aboard," said watch captain Richard Mason, who missed Ericsson 3's victory on the 40-day Leg 5 with a back injury. "I think it's due to confidence and understanding the boat. They were always good sailors. They just needed to become good offshore sailors, and they've done that."
VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEG 6 LEADERBOARD
(After four of seven finishers on Leg 6)
1. Ericsson 4, 77.5 points
2. Telefónica Blue, 64.5 points
3. Puma, 64 points
4. Ericsson 3, 53 points
Still racing: Telefónica Black, Green Dragon, Delta Lloyd
Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race