Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Ericsson 4 and PUMA on Tuesday morning. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.
by Victoria Low
After a night of fast, mostly straight-line sailing, Ericsson Racing Team and the Volvo Ocean Race fleet are within 150 nautical miles of here and the finish to Leg 9.
The winds overnight hardly dropped below 15 knots, and the free angle allowed crews to plot a course on rhumbline down the western side of Sweden to the bottom in the Oresund.
At today's 1000 GMT position report, overall race leader Ericsson 4 was locked in a three-way struggle with Puma and stablemate Ericsson 3.
PUMA and Ericsson 3 close in towards Sandhamn. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.
The International crew, led by skipper Torben Grael, and Puma were pacing neck-and-neck to the east of Oland, an island off southeastern Sweden, with 149 nautical miles to the finish in Sandhamn.
"Ericsson 4 was built up outside Stockholm, in Kista, and I think it wants to go home," said media crewmember Guy Salter. "No matter how many mistakes we make, she's making sure she gets us home."
Ericsson 4 racing towards Sandhamn. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.
Magnus Olsson's Nordic crew was 2 miles in arrears.
"It's a fantastic morning out here," Ericsson 3's Gustav Morin said earlier today. "We are steadily logging 20 to 25 knots of boatspeed, the sea is not to bumpy and now we have only around 400 meters to Puma, pointing straight forward from our bow. Ericsson 4 is about a mile up to windward and a bit ahead."
Ericsson 3 on Tuesday morning. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.
While the first 23 hours have been swift, the route to the finish could be slow. The fleet is in an area where a "massive light spot" was yesterday expected.
The finish will be held off Sandhamn, an island in the Stockholm archipelago just east of the capital city.
Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race