Tuesday, 16 June 2009

VOR: Leg Nine Day One Sequence of Events

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) at the start of leg 9 from Marstrand to Stockholm. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Sunday, 14 June 2009, 23:55 GMT UPDATE

Delta Lloyd has now joined the rest of the fleet on port gybe, and is headed for the coast more or less on the same line as Telefonica Black. The breeze is still a 20 knot westerly wind, and they gybed just before 23:40.


We now have six boats on port gybe, headed north-east towards the gap between Sandhammaren and Bornholm. Ericsson 4 are furthest south, then PUMA with Ericsson 3 chasing down their lane. A little to the north-west of them is Telefonica Black, with Green Dragon out on her own, four miles north-west of the leading pack. Delta Lloyd is still to gybe.

And this in from Ericsson 3’s Media Crew, Gustav Morin, “We have been in a very close battle with Telefonica Black almost since the start. They have been in front most of the time but a while ago we peeled to the big gennaker a bit before the Spanish and we managed to pass them. Now we have a gap of a couple of 100 metres.

“This is actually the first time I have sailed this boat in waters that I know, and this makes it a bit clearer how fast these boats really are. We are passing city after city sooner than I can upload pictures. This is by far the most intense leg in the race. In the coming hours we will gybe and start heading for the island of Oland, and we will go between Sweden and Bornholm.

“On the last leg we think we lost a lot from pushing too hard with no sleep and everyone had a downturn at the same time which had a big effect on the decision making. ‘The boat goes faster with more guys on deck, but only to a certain point. It is hard to find the balance,’ says Magnus Olsson, skipper, and continues, ‘We are trying to be a bit smarter with the sleeping this time.’”

Live blogging from a lonely Mark Chisnell, left behind to man the website in an eerily quiet Volvo HQ – so please email your thoughts, complaints, questions and fleet sightings to liveblog@volvooceanrace.org.


The gybing has started, PUMA turned to the north-east first just after 23:00 GMT, now on port, aiming back in towards the Swedish coast in a 20 knot westerly breeze. Telefonica Black was next to go, at about 23:15. I can’t imagine that Ericsson 4 and 3 will be far behind, but at the moment they are carrying on to the south-east. Chewing those miles up.


No changes at the front, everyone still paired up and still headed south-east – but I don’t think the first gybe is that far away.


Things have stabilised, with the fleet still headed south-east in a line. At the front are PUMA and Ericsson 4, side-by-side. Just over two miles behind them are Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3, side-by-side. And five miles behind them, are Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd, not quite side-by-side, but near enough. Three match races, through the Scandinavian night, and soon into the Scandinavian sunrise, it being virtually midsummer, and all that.


The fleet is still all headed south-east, and as they get further from the land the breeze is building – they are back in 20 knots of westerly (as Guy Salter suggested in the 21:30 Update), and hammering. But no significant changes in the running order.


Good news and bad news for Team Ericsson. We have another pass – PUMA is back in front of Ericsson 4. But Ericsson 3 is now a half mile in front of Telefonica Black. Green Dragon still lead Delta Lloyd, both boats dropping back from the leaders. The whole fleet is now past the Blenheim Light, and still on port gybe headed south-east, still no splits.

So although I’m sure we’ll go to hourly at some stage, I’m not sure anyone is quite ready for it for the whole leg. So you’re stuck with me for now, I’m afraid...


An update from Guy Salter, Media Crew on board Ericsson 4, “The large flotilla that has been with us for most of the day has dwindled, but it was great to see all the boats out of Malmo and Copenhagen this evening. The sun set about 30 minutes ago, and we are now in the dark - although that will not last for long in these areas.

“The wind has been stronger than anticipated and we hope that the parking lot we expect round the corner will not materialise - at present we are running in 16 knots of wind and expect it to top out in the low 20s in the next few hours.”


The leaders have passed south of the light at Blenheim, and we now have a 15-to-18 knot westerly, it’s backed (rotated clockwise) from the north-northwest. So it’s now a proper downwind leg along the south coast. And that means we have the potential for some splits.

Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 followed them round Blenheim Light, with Green Dragon inbound. So, not long before we have everyone headed east along the south coast, and at the moment everyone is staying on port gybe and headed south-east.

It’s starting to get dark out there, and the FleetBroadband Express is headed for the front of the fleet to see if they can watch this action in the gloom. Meanwhile, the all-seeing eye in the Race Office needs neither sunlight nor moonlight, although I could do with something to eat.

Live blogging from a lonely Mark Chisnell, left behind to man the website in an eerily quiet Volvo HQ – so please email your thoughts, complaints, questions and fleet sightings to liveblog@volvooceanrace.org.


The leaders are still headed south-east, I don’t think that they have gybed along the south coast of Sweden yet – I guess they want to stay away from the coast. The next big town that they will be sailing past is Trelleborg. Behind them there is still nothing in it with Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3, and no change with the pair at the back either.


And that’s a pass – Ericsson 4 goes by PUMA to take the lead. The overall leaders on a full throttle charge. There’s nothing much in it, and both boats are set up to gybe to the east as they clear south of Falsterbo.


Ericsson 4 is still scything into PUMA’s lead, it’s down to less than half a mile now, as both boats head past Falsterbo – the breeze steady in the mid-teens and from the west-northwest. The overall leaders are on a charge.

A mile behind them, Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 are paired off, still side by side, absolutely nothing in it at all with those two. Green Dragon is another three miles back, with a comfortable lead over Delta Lloyd.

Telefonica Blue isn’t the only boat in need of dagger board and rudder repair tonight.


It now seems that everyone is going west of Saltholm – so good news for the Danish side of the channel. Not so good for getting cool photos of them passing under a very cool bridge.

Ian Walker reports from Green Dragon, “We are all sailing down the channel off Copenhagen and the sun is setting over the city behind us. We are back past Delta Lloyd after they had a very scrappy spinnaker drop - getting the spinnaker halyard caught over the top of the mainsail. They seem to also be trapped behind a large ship in the channel.” And that confirms what Peter Braun saw at the 19:25 Update.


The gap between PUMA and Ericsson 4 is still narrowing, with the wind dropping to around 13 knots. Both boats are through the narrowest section between Saltholm and Copenhagen, with Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 slipping back a little behind them, but still side by side. Telefonica Black in danger of being passed back down the fleet.

There’s a new email from Telefonica Blue’s Media Crew, Gabri Olivo, all about the grounding - complete with a scary picture. Apparently they are waiting for the boat cradle so they can get the boat up on the shore – I guess the cradle had gone ahead to Stockholm.

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PUMA is now in the narrowest part of the channel between Saltholm and Copenhagen, with Ericsson 4 closing to within just over a mile, and Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 the same distance behind Ericsson 4. Green Dragon leading Delta Lloyd, both boats another three miles further back. The wind is still holding up in the mid-teens, still blowing from the west-northwest.

For everyone writing in with sympathy for the unfortunate Telefonica Blue, and asking for updates – our team in Marstrand confirmed that they are suspended out of the water, with the team are examining the damage. But I wouldn’t expect any news on the repair schedule for some time, there will be a lot of work to do to figure out the extent of the structural damage.

And for everyone sending in the coordinates of a map showing where the Telefonica Blue grounding happened, we have tried posting this but the link wouldn’t work. I have posted what we think are the coordinates at the 17:55 Update.


PUMA are right by the island of Saltholm, with a two mile lead from Ericsson 4. Telefonica Black is right with them, with Ericsson 3 beside her now.

Sander Plujim has just written from Delta Lloyd, although I’m not sure of the timing relative to the above incident, “We are fighting a boat to boat fight against the Green Dragon here on the Danish coast. The breeze is a lot lighter than an hour ago and it turns out that we will have a beautiful sunset, while the crowd is still following us in little boats, it's fantastic to see all these enthusiastic people.

“Today when we left Marstrand we were surprised by the hundreds of boats on the water. Since we arrived in Europe it seems that there are more people watching. On the horizon, we can see the other boats in the race so the battle isn't over yet, the boys still have their fighting spirit!”


The FleetBroadband Express is back with the leaders, reporting that Ericsson 4 has a Code Zero up, with a staysail and full main. We already know that PUMA has shaken the reef out. The wind is down in the mid-teens now, but relatively steady at that strength.

PUMA is just a handful of miles from Saltholm, the island in the middle of the channel between Malmoe and Copenhagen. And it looks like they are going by it to the west, so over the tunnel rather than under the bridge.


So, the Position Report is on its way. I can tell you that the breeze is back up a little, and they are closing on the bridge at about 15 knots again.

There’s an email just in from Rick Deppe, Media Crew aboard the leader, PUMA. And I’ve just seen some astonishing footage that Rick shot aboard PUMA as they swerved round the distraught Telefonica Blue, and I can tell you, there were some deeply stressed and distressed people on that boat. We will get it up for you when we can. Anyway, back to Rick’s email:

“Ocean Racing is not an easy sport to capture because much of it happens out of sight, so the Media Team’s job (that’s me and my mates here) will be to coordinate media feeds from the boats in as near real time as possible and help to create the story line in a Macro version.

“My job on the boat will be to try to give them the Micro picture. It’s not daily reports any more, the race will play out hour by hour. Our collective mission... put the fans on the boats and into the race. So stick by the computer and come along for the ride.

“We are now approaching the narrow gap between Helsingor in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden. The wind is easing off a little so the boys are shaking out the reef: Standby sailors up; Pitman prepares the main halyard; Blow off inboard reef line; Get outboard reefline off lock; Ease mainsheet and vang; Ease outboard reefline as main halyard is hoisted; Sheet main back on.”


Everyone is past Helsingborg, and PUMA have now led the fleet to the west of the island of Ven. They still have a handy lead, but the wind continues to drop as they go south, and the fleet continues to compress.

The leaders are about 10 miles north of the bridge at the moment. I believe I may have been confusing the times to the bridge with the times to Helsingborg in previous postings. No danger of making that mistake again, as they are now past Helsingborg. But I already told you that ...


PUMA still have their lead, but Ericsson 3 have caught the pair in front, Ericsson 4 and Telefonica Black. Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd just a couple of miles behind them, so everything still compressing them.

Just in from Gustav Morin aboard Ericsson 3, written maybe 20 minutes ago, “We are pretty concerned about the guys on Telefonica Blue who hit a rock soon after the leeward rounding. ‘Blue just hit the breaks! Watch out!’ Richard Mason shouted just after he saw the Spanish boat dive and then heel. We all hope they are all well onboard. To go from 15 knots to 0 can cause some serious headaches.”

All alive and all well, Gustav, but not particularly happy, I’d say.

Morin continues, “It still pretty wet out here and we are still steadily doing over 20 knots. We will soon put the A4 up for a couple of miles when we get on to the narrow parts. Next hours will be interesting.”

No doubt about that, they are still slowing, wind speeds and wind directions now in the mid-teens as everyone hits the narrowest part of the Sound – who will pop out first?

Aafke Baker said, “The name Kattegat derives from the Dutch words Kat (cat) and Gat (hole or throat, depending on your encyclopedic reading.”


PUMA lead past Helsingborg with Ericsson 4 now just over a mile behind them, the gaps are closing as the leaders sail into less breeze.

So, things to do in the Race Village – the boats are the best part for me, but there’s plenty of other stuff – race simulator and exhibitions, and, of course, just hanging out and soaking up the atmosphere.


PUMA is now just four miles from Helsingborg, with Ericsson 4 and Telefonica Black just over two miles behind them. Then we have Ericsson 3 another half mile off the pace, and a further two mile deficit to Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon.

The latest I have from Marstrand is that Telefonica Blue is indeed out of the water – and our reporter nearly fell out of a window to get you that piece of info. By the looks of the damage listing in this report, I’d say they’ve got plenty on to make the start of Leg 10, never mind the In-Port Race in Stockholm. But we won’t really know the deal until the structural engineers take a look at it, and that could take a few hours to do properly, as they will probably want to test it with ultrasound.


We have the first signs of the fleet slowing up - I have the wind speed and the boat speed readings under 20 knots, but not by much, as they rip past Hoganas.

As I understand it at the moment, Bouwe Bekking and Telefonica Blue are accepting that it was their mistake, and not blaming a charting error. So it may be that Andrew Cape was about to make the same error, or he could have slid by it with a couple of yards to spare and no one would have been any the wiser. The GPS is not accurate to the nearest metre, remember, even if the charts are.

A note on the issues with the Position Reports and the leaderboard – we are having trouble synchronising the Position Reports coming in off the boats. Sometimes the automatic polling comes in at different times, and when they are this close, just a minute or two can make a big difference in the order. So keep it tuned here, and I’ll try and make sure I tell you when we think there’s a problem.


PUMA are past Kullen lighthouse and streaking down towards Hoganas, the pack still hot on their tail. Everyone is powering along at 20 plus knots, no sign of a slow down yet.

Telefonica Black are giving Ericsson 4 a run for their money at the moment. Clearly no problems with boat speed at these tighter wind angles (about 110 TWA) – but if past performance is anything to go by it will get tougher for them if the breeze stays up as they turn to the east at Falsterbo, and they start going properly downwind.

There are about 15 miles to go to Helsingborg, less than an hour at the current pace.


Our thanks to Cameron Kelleher for escorting you through one of the most dramatic afternoons in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race – “follow that”, were his parting words as he cleared out of the office for a beer, leaving yours truly, Mark Chisnell, on shift until the wee hours...

Or, maybe, not – I’m going to be your guide to the tactical battle in the Oresund Sound before handing over to the FleetBroadband Express – at least, that was the plan. But they are still in frantic pursuit of the fleet after covering Telefonica Blue’s misadventure – the full story and reaction right here. The gist of it is summed up in a quote from Bouwe Bekking, “It’s a disaster.” Quite.

Meanwhile, back to the action with the fleet - I can tell you that right now, PUMA is leading and just a mile of so from the Kullen lighthouse. So if you’re watching at the bridge, stand-by, Volvo Open 70s inbound...

Behind them, we have Ericsson 4, Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 in a tight pack, with Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon a couple of miles further back.


OK, time for a history lesson, courtesy of our good friends at wikipedia. The fleet is now navigating the Kattegat, a waterway that connects the Baltic and North seas and lies between the coasts of Sweden and Denmark.

The name Kattegat derives from the Dutch words Kat (cat) and Gat (hole or throat, depending on your encyclopedic reading).

It is borrowed from medieval navigation jargon, when captains of trading ships would compare the Danish Straits to a hole so narrow that even a cat would have difficulty squeezing through it due to reefs and shallow waters.

Cat’s throat ... PUMA beware.

And with that, this is Cameron Kelleher signing off from blog duty. I'll leave you in the more than capable hands of Mark Chisnell for the next few hours.


As promised, here's the audio put together by PUMA's Rick Deppe, an eyewitness to the Telefonica Blue mishap.


A dispatch from Green Dragon's navigator Ian Moore, lands in the inbox at Race HQ. For all those people wondering when the fleet would reach the Oresund Sound, here's what Moore has to say:

"We have just changed to a Fractional Zero from the masthead Zero. It seems faster and more under control. Wind is up to 24 knots and we seem to be gaining on Delta Lloyd who only have what looks like a genoa up.

"At this pace its less than three hours to entrance to the Sound. Then the fun really begins."


Further reaction to the Telefonica Blue mishap comes from their close rivals on PUMA. Rick Deppe wrote:

"The excitement of the start was overshadowed by the Tele Blue grounding. What I can say is that at the time they hit I was watching them about 100 metres ahead as we followed them around a headland, when they hit what I saw made me feel sick to my stomach.

"All of us on il mostro are praying that no one was hurt and that the boat is OK."

Nice words Rick.


For those on Telefonica Blue-watch, our spies tell us that the Blue boat has now docked in Mastrand. The boat will travel from there to Inston on the mainland to be hauled out. That should be in about two hours.


An email from Ericsson 4's Guy Salter, bemoaning their stumble at the start. "Not the best start for us on Ericsson 4 and our bottom mark rounding left a lot to be desired - in fact its probably our poorest piece of crew work from us this race," he wrote.

And a word of consolation for the stricken Telefonica Blue. "It won't be the ugly rounding which people will remember - it will of course be the unfortunate Tele Blue who we last saw perch on top of a rock - it's a real shame and we just hope they don't have too much damage even though they must have been going around 13-14 knots.

"I'm sure that those boys will be able to make good use of the light spots that the front runners will be sailing into. The wind has just piped up and we are flying along the coast at 24 knots with Ericsson 3 just in front of us. It wil be a tight tussle for all of


An update from our colleagues on the FleetBroadband Express. Telefonica Blue has damage to the port daggerboard. The boat is under sail back to Marstrand where a full inspection will take place.

She was freed using a pilot boat pulling the bow and another boat with a line attached to the halyard from the top of the rig.

The FleetBroadband Express has now set off in pursuit of the fleet having given the six boats a nine-mile start. With the fleet currently powering along at 22-24 knots, according to the Duty Office, they are going to take some catching. Pedal to the metal guys!


Better news for Telefonica Blue, the crew has finally freed the boat from the rock and are under sail power again. No doubt they will be checking out the canting keel mechanism before deciding what their next step is. A full assessment of the damage is high on the job list.

They have lost two hours to the fleet.


The first Position Report is in. Ericsson 4, despite an ordinary start by their standards, is in a three-way battle at the head of the fleet along with the sistership Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon.

Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Black are a mile further back with PUMA +2 miles adrfit.


Meanwhile, from out on the race course, an email arrives from Delta Lloyd Media Crew Member, Sander Pluijm.

"We just passed Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon and are now in third position," he wrote. "After our great start and our unfortunate park-up in a wind-hole the boys are sailing with a smile again.

"Everybody is happy to be out on the water again, after this really nice and relaxed stopover in Marstrand.

"But now we are racing again and moving forward ..." Unlike Telefonica Blue.


Telefonica Blue is surrounded by support boats, inclduign those of rival teams. Recovery crews have attached a line to the mast and another to the boat in an effort to dislodge the boat.

The third attempt proves unsuccessful. A horrible grating sound emanates from under the hull each time they attempt to move it. This is deeply frustrating for the crew.

Bowman Daryl Wislang has donned the dry suit and appears to be the man designated to dive below to help the rescue efforts.

As for now, the boat is still stuck and not looking like budging.


Telefonica Blue is in a "dire circumstance", reports Peter Rusch from on board the FleetBroadband Express at the scene. "It is sitting on its keel on the rock, very hard aground," he says. "The boat is like a wounded elephant right now. It is tilted over on quite an angle. They have a line attached to one of the Coast Guard vessels and are trying to refloat it."

Under the rules, Telefonica Blue will have to serve a two-hour time penalty though that is the least of the crews' problems right now.

Volvo Ocean Race

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