by Lucy Harwood
The fleet are approaching the final 300 miles to the finish of Leg 6 into Boston. But it isn’t over yet as they traverse a final band of high pressure. Ericsson 4 have sneaked in front of their sistership Ericsson 3 by just 6 miles. Telefonica Blue are battling to stay with them 24 miles behind in third. Elsewhere PUMA has gone into Stealth Mode, this will last 12 hours as they look for the tactical options in the final miles to the finish. Unlike other legs any boat in Stealth must now pop back on the radar 250 miles before the finish and not 50 miles as was the previous rule.
Green Dragon, Telefonica Black and Delta Lloyd are caught in a battle of their own, whilst the Dragon and the Spaniards stay out to the west Delta Lloyd are over 60 miles to the east. Conditions have been full on for all the crews in the last 36 hours as they take on the Gulf Stream, as Ian Walker highlighted in yesterday’s email from the boat, “The next big navigational decision will be how and when to cross the Gulf Stream”. Whilst the front boats slowed as they hit this wall, Green Dragon, Telefonica Black and Delta Lloyd all kept steaming ahead and the gap to the leaders closed. But the 1600 position report shows that the slow down process is across the fleet as all the boats have lost miles to the leader.
Volvo’s race expert Mark Chisnell commented, “By 10:00 ZULU this morning the game had changed fast. After battling strong winds and big waves, the race was now on to beat the formation of a high pressure ridge that threatens to derail them. The leading trio had already slowed dramatically, and it can only get worse for the boats behind.”
Passing the ridge of high pressure will be the sole focus for the seven boat fleet over the next 12 hours. Once they are hooked into the south westerly winds, they will be sailing a straight line to the finish in Boston, and the first one to hook into this will provide crucial leverage over the others.
Leg Six Day 15: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) STEALTH MODE
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 312 nm
2. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) + 6 nm
3. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) + 24 nm
4. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 74nm
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) + 113 nm
6. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) + 117 nm
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS
Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race