Tuesday, 16 June 2009

VOR: Leg Nine - The Finish

Ericsson 3 and PUMA Ocean Racing in a duel for first place on leg 9 from Marstrand to Stockholm. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Mark Chisnell


PROVISIONAL RESULTS (pending ratification)
1st PUMA 20:43:10 GMT Elapsed Time 1 day 09 hours 43 mins 10 secs
2nd Ericsson 3 20:44:40 GMT Elapsed Time 1 day 09 hours 44 mins 40 secs
3rd Ericsson 4 20:58:55 GMT Elapsed Time 1 day 09 hours 58 mins 55 secs
4th Telefonica Black 21:39:09 GMT Elapsed Time 1 day 10 hours 39 mins 09 secs
5th Green Dragon 21;58:48 GMT Elapsed Time 1 day 10 hours 58 mins 48 secs
6th Delta Lloyd 22:54:45 GMT Elapsed Time 1 day 11 hours 54 mins 45 secs
7th Telefonica Blue Suspended


Delta Lloyd finished leg 9 at 22:54:45 GMT in sixth place. The remaining boat, Telefonica Blue, suspended racing and remains in Marstrand undergoing repairs.

Green Dragon navigator, Ian Moore commented on Telefonica Blue's misfortune: "I really feel for SiFi. It could happen to any one of us, let's face it. I was looking at the rock on the thing when they hit and was just wondering where it was and suddenly we could see where it was. We've all got close to rocks and realised how close we were and felt the bottom drop out of your stomach. But thankfully nobody was hurt and it sounds like they'll be back in the race."


Reaction from Green Dragon navigator, Ian Moore on their fifth placing on this leg: "We were second out of Marstrand but everybody just came past us. Delta Lloyd just came past us doing about 1.5 knots faster. So we just thought, 'well, let's see what happens...' And we got them later in the transition.

"Although we would wish for better, it's a good result. We managed to hold off several faster boats. This is my final leg aboard the Dragon as my wife is due to have a baby during leg 10, so I will be hanging up my boots for a few months. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who suppported the Dragon and to the team."


At 21:39, Telefonica Black took fourth place taking 5 points for the leg, followed not long after by Green Dragon at 21:58. Delta Lloyd has about 9 miles to go.

At the dock, skipper Fernando Echavarri said, "We are not as fast as the others, especially downwind and that always makes the difference. We are there, and then the angles go high for running and we suffer a lot. That's the story of this Volvo Ocean Race for us.

"It was mostly about speed.... it was a fast leg, much faster than we anticipated.

"We are still hoping for a podium. We only have one more opportunity, so we will try to do it. It's not finished for two more weeks."


Julie Lee has stayed up till dawn in Singapore to watch this finish, and wants us to pass on congratulations to the PUMA team, “I became a fan after their stopover in Singapore and, in fact, was the team leader of the Registered Nurses who manned the medical post for the teams at the Race Village.

“The boys of PUMA were the friendliest of the various crews who were probably very wary of someone who was constantly going around taking pictures non-stop.” After living with a full-time photographer on a 70 foot sailboat for nearly nine months, I suspect they’re getting used to having their picture taken now, Julie.

The finish ended well for PUMA, but dinner ended badly for Roland, “My computer is slow, so I dashed off to heat the curry and pour another whiskey. I pushed the wrong button to heat the curry and overcooked it and spilt my drink while running back to the computer to wait for the final updates.” And his wife’s boat won.


Further dockside reaction ...

Magnus Olsson, Ericsson 3 skipper: "That was enough tacks for a lifetime. We wanted so badly to win and now Ken Read has destroyed my party. How mad do you think I am? From now on, I'm really going to pick on him.

Ericsson 4's third place was enough to secure overall victory in the 2008-09 race. Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael: "We made a few errors on the leg but we got what we wanted so we're pretty happy. We were very close in Marstrand, but now it's done. It's finished. We can really enjoy it.

"We are finishing Ericsson 4's circumnavigation. The boat was built here and left here nearly a year ago, so it's back after sailing around the world and winning the race, so it couldn't be any better.

"We have a wonderful crew. A lot of experience. They have been fantastic on the whole leg, the whole race around the world. It's a pleasure to sail with them and get back to Stockholm in this position."


From the dock, triumphant PUMA skipper Ken Read said, "It feels fantastic - we feel a little sad to spoil Ericsson 3's homecoming, but it's a great win, and a hard-earned win.

"Man do we know how to make it hard. I don't think it has to be this hard, but somehow that's the only way we seem to have success.

"When we let them get ahead of us at the lighthouse, I think most teams would have quit right there, but adversity seems to be our friend and we got a little break when they got their jib hung up on the radar dome but at the same time, that's what we were looking for, to force an error. It's a great relief to get our first leg win out of the way."


Telefonica Black and Green Dragon are duelling for 4th and 5th with 12 miles to go, approaching the lighthouse at Almagrundet and Delta Lloyd is another 12 miles behind.

Phil Gross writes from Missouri (which always makes me think of ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ for some reason) to say, “That was great. Let’s do it again. I thought I would not like such a short leg but it was exciting from the start to the finish. But, I didn’t get much work done today. How about a 200 leg race?” I don’t know about the crews, as I can only speak for myself, but I’ve got one more in me, Phil, if that.

Neville Barltrop is thinking along my kind of lines, “Rock on PUMA, but congratulations too to the Ericsson men. What a battle. Thank you to you guys for the excellent, nail biting, painful, exhilarating, mind blowing, exhausting and amusing coverage. When you get the chance, cool those weary typing fingers around a cold glass of beer.”

Now you’re talking, Neville – who, writing as a citizen (or is it a subject) of one of the most-watched nations on the planet, reckons, “I can tell you I have never watched a CCTV camera with so much focus and excitement as that one at Sandhamn, even though I didn't have a clue what I was seeing for most of the time!” And I can tell you that the City Sprint to Stockholm is Wednesday, details will be posted on the website as soon as the dust has settled on this finish.

And Magnus (or is it Mark, not sure, different email address to the sign off) feels quite strongly about Brad’s concerns at the 19:40 Update about Telefonica Blue using their shore crew to fix the boat. The word on the street is that Telefonica Blue will be trucked to Stockholm anyway, so it’s largely academic, but Magnus/Mark feels, rather poetically, that, “I hope it’s in the rules that after hitting a rock and losing a leg you can fix your boat with the Dallas cheerleaders if you want.” Now wouldn’t that be fun.


Ericsson 3 has taken second place in Leg 9, finishing at 20:44:40, followed 14 minutes later by Ericsson 4 at 20:58:55.


And it's the gun for PUMA as they take their first leg win here in Sandhamn, Stockholm, finishing at 20:43:10. Ericsson 3 is about 10 boat lengths behind, but the wind dropped away and it will be another minute or so before they finish.

There’s plenty of feedback from the virtual community coming down the wires. Paige Brooks believes in the power of virtual thought, “All of my American Facebook friends have changed their status to say GO PUMA! Obviously, this virtual cheering is working!”

Magnus is thinking of the guys that didn’t make it, “They all deserve a win. I just can’t stop thinking of how the Telefonica Blue guys feel, and thanks to your great video, one can see the true sportsmanship in the PUMA and other crew’s reaction, especially Captain Ken Read on his comments when passing just after they hit that rock. Yes, the yanks deserve a win ... great sailing by Ericsson 3 too.”

While Keith Lanan is saved from a drink problem by the fact that he’s at work. “Like Roland I would be sucking down the whisky too. But, I’m at work (don’t tell the boss) and all I have is coffee. I’m completely wired!”


Ericsson 3 definitely have a puff of breeze, but PUMA continues to tack to cover, and if anything, the red boat is slightly quicker in its manouevres as the finish line looms.

The locals reckon that the locals have the better local knowledge, Claes Engelin writes, “It seems as if Kenny Read and the guys on PUMA don't know that the wind tends to bend around islands. The Ericsson 3 guys, who are used to racing in among the weeds, seem to have picked the right side of the course to pick up that shift. Nicely done; hope it lasts to the finish. Go Ericsson 3!”

And Jonas Forsman is the only one so far to have told me that both links are the same, which is weird because I’m sure I looked at them and they were different views. Maybe a cut and paste error... no time for that now.


Ericsson 3 tacked to the finish line in what they thought would be their final tack but PUMA has tacked on top of them maybe 4 lengths ahead. PUMA are now maintaining a strong covering position with about a mile to go to the finish.


And PUMA are back past them! I think, Ericsson 3 tried to tack on their wind, but blew it and were dead in the water for 30 to 40 seconds when the headsail got caught on the radar; it looks like PUMA are now upwind of them and past them.

Support flooding in for both boats, here’s one from Timothy Pennington, “I agree, from here, that I would not have let them tack away this close to finish and with everyone else so far behind. Protect for the win. But then again I was screaming at my computer when Kenny and Capey took the flier last leg and it paid off for a second there. Let’s just hope there are no more seconds and finally a BULLET for us!”


We now have a full America’s Cup style tacking duel going on between PUMA and Ericsson 3 for the leg win. Desperate stuff in these boats with canting keels and tired crews who haven’t slept much in the 36 hours since they started. The breeze has dropped to eight knots and the Nordics are still holding off PUMA.


And Ericsson 3 have rolled PUMA, Ken Read and his team are now three boat lengths behind. I think it’s getting shifty and tough out there, as PUMA is now on starboard, and in the spectator fleet. Both boats need to tack again to get to the finish.

About 200 people (well, that’s what it feels like) have emailed to say that there is a live cam at the finish, the one I gave you earlier, but I think it looks straight across the line, so it isn’t going to tell you much till they get there - here it is.

Another 200 have told me about this one as well.


They are three boat lengths apart laterally, and we can’t tell who is ahead – no more tacking so I think there has been a big shift in Ericsson’s favour to bring them back into it, and allow them to lay the finish on port tack. It’s a straight-line drag race, with three miles to the finish.


There’s only one length in it now, PUMA are ahead and to leeward, desperately close, Ken Read shouldn’t have let them tack away from him – 75 boats watching this finish.


PUMA went back towards Ericsson 3, but then tacked short of them so it’s not clear who’s in front any more. Both boats on port tack, looks like Ericsson 3 might have more breeze than PUMA.


The leaders are not quite on course to the lighthouse at Revengegrundet. And they have split tacks to get there, and it’s even more upwind to the finish off Sandhamn. So there is a passing lane open. I would have thought that Ken Read would be all over Ericsson 3 in these final sections like a nasty rash – but then I can’t see what he can see on the water.


PUMA still 0.3 of a mile ahead, but the breeze is dropping fast, down to just over ten knots for PUMA and Ericsson 3 as they close on the finish.


PUMA are narrowly leading Ericsson 3 down the final straight, they are round the Almagrundet lighthouse, with the Nordics just a quarter of a mile behind. They are hard on the wind, not sure yet whether they are on course for the finish or if they will have to tack. They must still leave the lighthouses of Revengegrundet and Svangen to port, about eight miles to go.


PUMA have eased out to maybe a half mile lead with just 15 miles to run to the finish, Ericsson 3 still in touch, no change in the wind speed or direction yet, a good solid 20 knot westerly. They will be close on the wind when they round the lighthouse, but I don’t think it’s a proper upwind leg that involves tacking, at least, not yet.

Volvo Ocean Race

No comments: