Sunday, 7 June 2009
Ericsson 4 leads out of Galway Bay. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Victoria Low
A spectacle of a stopover was capped by a spectacular send-off for Ericsson Racing Team and the Volvo Ocean Race with a 20-knot northerly wind propelling Ericsson 4 at the head of the fleet as it left Galway Bay.
The race's visit to Galway shattered all expectations and drew Ireland President Mary McAleese to view the fleet today before it disembarked Galway Harbor.
"Everyone's well rested and ready to go," said Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael, the Brazilian five-time Olympic medalist. "It's been tempting to party every night with such a nice atmosphere in the town, but everyone's prepared for the leg."
The winds at the start were the strongest since perhaps the start of Leg 1 last October in Spain. The 20-knot northerly blew offshore, and the race committee set a downwind start for the short windward/leeward around Galway Bay before beginning the 1,250-nautical mile leg.
Ericsson 4, the overall race leader, started mid-line. When the gun fired, the crew hoisted the asymmetric spinnaker and promptly took off down the course at 20 knots boatspeed.
Ericsson 4 followed leader Green Dragon and was side-by-side with Telefónica Blue around the leeward mark. The swift Volvo Open 70s covered the 2 nautical miles downwind in about eight minutes.
Ericsson 4 then grabbed the lead on the upwind leg back towards the shoreline. The International crew led by six to eight boatlengths around the second mark before setting the asymmetric spinnaker again for a fast ride out the bay, past the Aran Islands and down the west coast of Ireland.
Teammate Ericsson 3, skippered by Sweden's Magnus Olsson, had a foul-up with the spinnaker set. Once the sail got drawing, the crew gave chase to the leaders and closed to within striking distance of fifth place after the 4-nautical mile loop.
The first mark of note for the fleet is Fastnet Rock, the lighthouse off the southern coast of Ireland. The fleet must leave the lighthouse to starboard before heading across the Celtic Sea to the English Channel. The leg is estimated to last four to six days and concludes in Marstrand, Sweden, Ericsson's home country.
VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEADERBOARD
(After Galway In-Port Race)
1. Ericsson 4, 94 points
2. Telefónica Blue, 81
3. Puma, 80
4. Ericsson 3, 62.5
5. Green Dragon, 53
6. Telefónica Black, 39
7. Delta Lloyd, 31
Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race