Saturday, 18 April 2009

WMRT: Gilmour to Compete at Match Race Germany


Peter Gilmour after winning the 2008 Monsoon Cup on the World Match Racing Tour. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by Eberhard Magg

There was an Easter surprise for the organisers of Match Race Germany this year in the form of Australian, Peter Gilmour. The four time Match Racing World Champion and his Yanmar Racing Team have announced their comeback onto the World Match Racing Tour. This will be the first appearance on the 09 circuit of the America’s Cup legend.

‘Peter is one of the most successful sailors of all time. He will for sure entertain the spectators on and off the shore on the highest level!’ said organiser Eberhard Magg.

Match Race Germany –‘You wouldn’t want to miss it!’ said Peter Gilmour, ‘We are excited to be heading back and have had a long enjoyable involvement with the event.”

Besides Gilmour, Ben Ainslie also sets course and heads to Lake Constance. The 3 times Olympic Champion, who could become the most successful Olympian of all times in 2012 on home turf, will bring the core of his TEAMORIGIN to Langenargen.

Ainslie will be joined by some of the best match racers in the world. French America’s Cup Skipper Sébastien Col and his compatriot Mathieu Richard, the world number 1 and 2 have entered. New Zealand shooting star and leader of the World Tour, Adam Minoprio will return, and so will 2007 Champion Paolo Cian (5th ISAF rankings). Young and wild Torvar Mirsky from Australia will be in Langenargen as well as most of the ISAF Top 10.

As of right now, Eberhard Magg is sure ‘We will have one of the best line up’s ever, for the 12th edition of Match Race Germany and that is a big compliment in these difficult times!’

Along with Magg, long time event partner Harald Thierer has helped run Match Race Germany, which has been part of the Tour since the year 2000. Every year more than 30,000 spectators find their way to Langenargen to enjoy the highest level of match racing, paired with a huge range of entertainment on shore.

The event will be sailed in sportive Bavaria 35 Match Yachts, not only for decisive points towards the Tour leaderboard, but also for US$50,000 in prize money and points towards the ISAF world ranking list. On top of that, a lot of prestige is at stake on the road to build match racing skills, which will be decisive for involvement on any AC team in the future. The Organising Club is the Yacht Club Langenargen e.V. with Michael Nöltge as president and the charismatic PRO Rudi Magg.

Matching with the star spangled list of competitors, the organisers will score high on shore yet again in 2009. ‘Despite the very difficult times, we have managed to attract and convince new top brands in addition to our long term loyal partners.’ said Harald Thierer. New partners are Moet Hennessy with their brands Veuve Cliquot and Glenmorangie. Another international brand icon, known for the best chainsaws in the world, Stihl increases their involvement compared to last year. On the bruised financial market, a clear sign has been set by UBS, who will bring 50 guests to Langenargen. Car manufacturer AUDI has joined along with the Industry and Trade Chamber of the Lake Constance region the IHK with their slogan: ‘Elite Sport meets Elite region’.

The town of Langenargen will support their annual sports highlight again, counting on a big indirect profitability of the popular spectators event, which attracts guests from around the lake, neighbouring countries such as Austria and Switzerland as well as other international visitors and people from all over Germany. Flanked by Ultramarin, the biggest marina on the lake, the new Match Center Germany with its “sail academy” and successful business coaching events as well as Bavaria Yachts, Match Race Germany will start stronger than ever. The sailing pros will also benefit from newly installed pontoons in the event marina in Langenargen.

Another attraction in the on and off the water programme will see the Yacht Club Langenargen e.V. offering kids the opportunity of a test sail in Optimists. The ambitious Opti sailor will get a chance to compete in team races against each other in “Team Race Germany”, and will no doubt be inspired and encouraged meeting theirs sailing hero’s to continue and improve in the sport of sailing. As usual there will be a pirate themed kid’s programme. The opening ceremony will be held at its traditional home in the Montfort Castle on the 28th of May.

From Friday through to Monday there will be musical entertainment in the party tent. Access to the event site and all activities are free of charge to all visitors. The man on the microphone “The Voice” will once again be Christoph Schumann, who will be commentating on the action both on and off the shore!

Current World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard (top eight teams after stage one of ten):
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing, 25
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 20
3. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 15
4. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 12
5. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 10
6. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 8
7. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 6
8. Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar, 4 points

Match Race Germany
World Match Racing Tour

VOR: Green Dragon - Heading for the Doldrums


Coffee time on board Green Dragon on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Rio to Boston. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Lucy Harwood

The fleet have past the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha, the same scoring gate from the first leg from Alicante to Cape Town. It was the Spaniards on Telefonica Blue who kept Ericsson 4 at bay and took full points. Ericsson 4 were second followed by Delta Lloyd just one minute ahead of PUMA. Telefonica Black took fifth, Ericsson 3 were next, followed by Green Dragon who had been caught in a band of light air as they made their final approach.

The calm light conditions before the gate have now shifted to squalls and wind shifts ranging from 5 – 18 knots, as well as a swing in direction from north-east to east-southeast. Ahead lies the doldrums and life isn’t going to get easier until they are through this and can head into the north-east trade winds. With the gate behind them the options for routing are more open as they don’t have to work towards a direct way point ahead of them.

Once past the gate the fleet scattered and Telefonica Blue have pulled away from the chasing pack. They now hold a 70 mile lead from the closet boats Ericsson 4 and Ericsson 3. Whilst Green Dragon remains in seventh they have made progress on the boats ahead and are now 21 miles from second placed Ericsson 4. For James Carroll (Green Dragon’s boat captain) who is sailing his second leg onboard the Dragon it will be a nervous 24 hours as they pass the equator. This will be his first crossing and as skipper Ian Walker pointed out King Neptune does not look kindly on those who pass from south to north on their first time! A visit from King Neptune and Queen Codfish is on the cards for the Dragon...

Leg Six Day 7: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

1. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) DTF 3,270 nm
2. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +70
3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +79
4. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +82
5. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +83
6. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 84
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +91

Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA maintain second place overall after Atlantic scoring gate


Rough seas onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kate Fairclough

PUMA passed through the leg six scoring gate in fourth place last night, to maintain their current overall second place in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. Having endured tricky light wind sailing during the first week of the 4,900 nautical mile leg from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Boston, USA, the PUMA team are currently battling through squally doldrums conditions as they fight their way northwards towards the equator. With 3,500 miles to go to Boston and currently placed second in this leg, PUMA have been climbing the leader board fast over the past 48 hours.


Casey Smith onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

Fernando de Noronha, an Atlantic archipelago which the fleet passed to the west of during leg one and to the east late last night, is the first milestone of the leg to Boston. In keeping with the intensely close race to date, PUMA was almost within touching distance of their rivals as they passed through the gate, earning valuable points which count towards the team’s overall score in the race. With their minds set on the next milestone of the leg – the fourth and final equator crossing of the 37,000 nautical mile round the world race – the PUMA team are racing within sight of the close pack of boats around them. While wind speeds are varying wildly between five and 18 knots, and the direction swinging from north east to east south east, the ten man crew is being kept on their toes, with everyone poised to run on deck to change sails at any moment.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG SIX DAY 7 QFB: received 17.04.09 1354 GMT


Rob Salthouse onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kenny Read (skipper)

Getting ahead, digging a hole, battling back. That sums up our little jaunt to the scoring gate. We will take a fourth as it could have been much worse.

As unlucky as we were at the beginning of the leg, that is about as lucky as we were at the end. Any time you sail around a boat that was 10 miles ahead of you with 50 miles to go - good fortune is looking down upon you. And we nearly grabbed a third at the gate as well, getting through the imaginary line at Fernando de Noronha about five boat lengths behind Delta Lloyd. In fact they had to come up to our line and tacked on us to prevent us from getting there ahead of them. All after over 1000 miles of sailing. Amazing.

We are now parked (literally) in the doldrums. We were going 24 knots about an hour ago. Now the speedo reads 2.2 knots and we are heading for South Africa, not South America. Pretty fluky place, but the good news is we all got a much needed shower this morning and - oh yeah - we missed two water spouts that were forming right next to us.

One fairly large one was forming about two miles to windward and the other - a small one was literally forming about five lengths in front of us. We were ripping along at 20 knots at the time and Salty (Rob Salthouse) said, "That looks a lot like the beginning of a water spout." We all told him to have his head examined and within seconds the water started foaming up under the slender little cloud above it.

Yikes. Keen eye, that Salty has. We all just looked at each other and I said, hang on. Which we did. And nothing happened. It disappeared as fast as it was born.

(Sorry just had to take a half hour off from writing this as what looked like a simple little patch of rain turned into a 20 knot squall and sent us careening down the track. All the sails not in use were on the bow at the time. We decided as a team that losing all the sails overboard in a nose dive would probably be really bad, so we moved them back.)

Now we have to chip our way through this weather minefield. The best or the luckiest will win the battle and get to the trades first and get a sizable jump on the rest so there is all to play for. Just hope the path we choose to get through is the lucky one.

All good aboard the fine yacht and actually glad to have that scoring gate over with and really glad to be in the hunt. Out in the open ocean again. Boston here we come. Go Sox.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team Captures Second at Scoring Gate


Ryan Godfrey looking for wind on approaching the scoring gate. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson Racing Team.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson Racing Team yacht Ericsson 4 cleared the Leg 6 scoring gate of the Volvo Ocean Race in second place last night.

The scoring gate was a line of latitude extending east from Ilha de Fernando de Noronha, an island about 200 nautical miles northeast of Natal, Brazil

Ericsson 4, the overall race leader skippered by Brazil's Torben Grael, cleared the gate at 2258 GMT. The International crew added 3.5 points to their scoreline and now has 69.5 points total, more than 10 points ahead of second place.

"It's a very good position for us. We're very happy with 2nd place," said Grael. "We had our ups and downs on the way here and that position is good for the overall for us. So we're pretty happy."

Teammate Ericsson 3 cleared the gate in sixth place. Skipper Magnus Olsson and the Nordic crew collected 1.5 points to increase their total to 46 points, good for fourth place on the leaderboard.


Martin Krite signalling for a sail change. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson Racing Team.

The crew lost a chance at a better placing when they had to tack to port to get to the east of Fernando de Noronha, which pushed them back from their competition on the water.

"We fought like hell to lay the mark and at the very end got this crazy lift, but it wasn't enough and we had to tack," said watch captain Richard Mason. "It was a fight to the bitter end, but not a good scoring gate for us."

Except for the lead boat, the six other crews on the leg rounded the island in the dark and varied weather conditions. Reports from the crews illustrate everything from light winds to heavy squalls, similar to what Ericsson 4 encountered.

"It's been a tough leg up to the scoring gate with a lot of clouds, even more by the end here," Grael said. "There was a big one at the last approach when we were very close, 30 knots of wind. After that, a big calm. We could see boats behind us showing up, their running lights. It was quite a scary moment. Then we ended up getting some breeze again and we just managed to lay the island."

The weather in the South Atlantic Ocean has also played havoc with Ericsson 3. On the first night of the leg last Saturday the crew's Code Zero headsail developed a few punctures when it was slapping into the rig in light winds. Then, two days ago, skipper Olsson was washed into the guard rail around the starboard helmsman's station and injured some ribs.

"The last 24 hours have been insane," Mason said from Ericsson 3. "We've been sailing along in nothing and then huge amounts of breeze. We've had 25 knots of boatspeed, and Magnus has a broken rib. But we're still gunning for the front runners."

The fleet is bound for Boston, USA, which is about 3,300 nautical miles to the northwest. The leaders are expected to arrive in Boston in another seven to 10 days.

"There are nearly 2,000 nautical miles of reaching conditions in winds between 10 and 20 knots coming up," said team meteorologist Chris Bedford. "Around latitude 30 North (or perhaps a bit south of there), they will make the transition across a high-pressure ridge and into the westerlies of the North Atlantic. Whatever weather system greets the fleet after crossing in to the westerlies could very well determine who wins the leg."

VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEG 6 LEADERBOARD
(At 1003 GMT, Apr. 17, 2009)
1. Telefónica Blue, 3,359 nautical miles to finish
2. Ericsson 4, +55 NM
3. Delta Lloyd, +57 NM
3. Telefónica Black, +57 NM
5. Puma, +58 NM
6. Ericsson 3, +59 NM
7. Green Dragon, +71 NM

Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Team Delta Lloyd Passes Scoring Gate in Third Position


Teamwork on board Delta Lloyd. Image copyright Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd.

by Diana Bogaards

On Thursday April 16 at 23:28 hours GMT, Team Delta Lloyd crossed the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha in third position. It was a close battle with Puma, but the Dutch entry managed to maintain her top three position at the Brazilian archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Skipper Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) and his crew picked up three points for their efforts and they are currently still holding on to the third place. Telefonica Blue collected the maximum of four points and has a comfortable lead in this sixth leg to Boston/USA.

Skipper Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) said he is surprised by the performance of his team: "Especially because we didn't do any offshore training. Despite the lack of that specific practice, we are managing the many sail changes quite well. I am very happy with our third position at the scoring gate and with the crew. The spirit is great, so hopefully we will be able to achieve more in this leg. Our target hasn't changed. We still want to mix up in the competition and get a better result in Boston."

On Friday morning April 17, Media Crew Member Sander Pluijm (NED) reported enthusiastically on the nerve-racking final meters towards the scoring gate: "Well, it was very close, but we do have our third place, thanks to a remarkable example of ocean racing by the guys. Throughout the whole day, we have been fighting with the clouds and squalls, which resulted in many sail changes and intense sailing. Most of the times we were battling with Telefonica Black. However, Ericsson 4 took over our second position and then we had Puma in our wake. Really, the gap was only 150 meters."

Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak about the final stages towards the scoring gate: "Telefonica Black was our biggest competitor, but at the last moment Puma has gone around the outside of a big light patch under a squall and has made huge gains. In the end, the wind shifted too much to the left for us." Although the Americans closed in fast, it was just not enough to beat the Dutch entry before the landmark off the Brazilian coast. Verbraak: "The message of our top three passage was received on deck with loud cheers, people shaking hands and jumping up and down. An excellent result for all of us here on Team Delta Lloyd. Everybody has put in 110% the last days and worked their hardest as a team. The feeling is great, especially because the result again is due to good sailing and not to luck.'

Close racing

Meanwhile, the competition remains unbelievable exciting among the fleet. Telefonica Blue extended her lead, while Puma climbed to a second position overall. Delta Lloyd is in third position, but less than a mile behind Puma and two miles ahead of Ericsson 4. Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 follow directly. The gap between the numbers two and six is only seven miles. Delta Lloyd and Puma try their luck at the eastern side of the course towards the Doldrums. Both teams gained in the last couple of hours. The two Swedish VO70's and Telefonica Black chose the western side.

Verbraak: "The next 24 hours we can expect more cloud action as we are crossing the Doldrums to find our way to the NE trades in the northern hemisphere. We are trying to find a balance between going north and getting to the new wind first, and going lower more on course to the mark. For now we are happy to mainly work on getting to the NE trades and getting through the light and squally messy area as quick as we can."

Scoring board on April 17 2009 at 13:24 GMT:
Telefonica Blue
Puma, +63 nm
Delta Lloyd, +63 nm
Ericsson 4, +65 nm
Telefonica Black, +69 nm
Ericsson 3, +70 nm
Green Dragon, +81 nm

Team Delta Lloyd
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Bouwe Bekking does it again: Telefonica Blue first across the Fernando de Noronha scoring gate


Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) are first through the scoring gate of Fernando de Noronha at 19:58:56 GMT 16/04/09, securing 4 points, on of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Javier Sobrino

Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 has been going well for Bouwe Bekking and his crew onboard Telefonica Blue. They had been leading the fleet out of Rio by an ever-growing margin and at 19:50 GMT yesterday Telefonica Blue was the first to cross the Fernando de Noronha scoring gate, adding an additional 4 points to their overall score as they make their way to Boston.

"We have made the right calls since our first night out of Rio, and since then we have been consistent and of course, the boat has been going well," said Bouwe Bekking of his team's performance. "It is a pretty good feeling, especially after all the mishaps in the last leg, we have showed again how quickly we can bounce back. Not only for us as a sailing team, but also for the shore crew who have busted their bums to give us this fantastic boat."

Telefonica Blue has added eight points to the leaderboard in less than two weeks thanks to an easy win in the Rio in-port race and the Fernando de Noronha gate crossing. For Bouwe, the result at this gate crossing may come as no surprise as he managed the same feat in the last edition of the VOR, leading Movistar across this same waypoint ahead of the fleet on the leg from Rio (BRA) to Baltimore (USA).

Currently third in the overall standings, Telefonica Blue has far from finished the 2008-2009 edition of this legendary race. Perhaps good fortune is finally smiling on the Spanish boat considering the difficulties the team has already been up against in this edition of the race. Bouwe and his crew suffered greatly in Leg 5- their start began delayed by 19 hours and even so they managed to push forward to take the lead at one point on the way to Rio. Then the forestay broke, greatly slowing their progress and resulting in a discouraging last place for the Leg. However the team did all within their power to keep spirits up and it did not take long for them to recover, with the results of the Rio in-port race as evidence of their efforts.

Telefonica Blue began Leg 6 with high hopes, and the miles between the team and the rest of the fleet only continue to grow. As an added bonus, following the latest results including the Fernando de Noronha waypoint crossing, there are only 0.5 points overall in between Bouwe Bekking's boat and their second-place-overall-rivals, Ken Read's Puma Ocean Racing (USA).

When asked where his focus lies for the rest of the leg, Bouwe replies, "the key point is to stay ahead of ERT4, Puma and the rest of the boats when we cross the ridge of high pressure of the Bermuda high- that will be crucial."

The pressure is on.

Bouwe Bekking
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG SIX DAY 7 QFB: received 17.04.09 1032 GMT


Andrew McLean onboard Green Dragon, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

At around midnight last night we passed the island of Fernando de Noronha for the second time in this race. For six of us onboard who have sailed every leg and never sailed the race before, this means we have completed our first circumnavigation of the world. For guys like Neal McDonald it is simply yet another 'lap'.

Having sailed all through Asia it really does feel like we have sailed the whole world too! This is a great achievement for these guys and for the team as a whole but we will not truly consider the 'lap' complete until we get to Galway.

Spirits are good onboard despite being last at the scoring gate. We are sailing well and over the last 24 hours we have taken lots of miles out of the pack. We need to steal as many miles as we can in the doldrums before we get into the NE trades and power reaching conditions again.

Telefónica Blue has done a nice job leading at the gate but I will admit it is frustrating that we were right behind them at Capo Frio having done the hard bit well. We have 3600 miles between us and Boston to find another break. It is quite bizarre how 3600 miles seems like a short hop after the marathon leg five. In fact if the weather forecast holds true we should have less than 1000 miles to go in a week’s time.

We are technically in the doldrums right now with towering clouds and rain squalls, but still we hold good wind - for now. The sailing is fantastic, especially at night with lots of medium air reaching. It looks like it will only get better too.

Life aboard today is mainly focused on the rite of passage across the Equator for James Carroll, our popular boat captain. Rumour has it an oriental King Neptune, King Chuan, will be making an appearance and a considerable list of 'crimes' has been prepared. Unfortunately for Jimbo the lads have had far too long, with nothing else to think about, for him to get away lightly and this is our third ceremony of the race so we are getting better at them. It seems hard to believe that only six months ago I was among those getting initiated - an awful lot has happened since then.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SIX DAY 7 QFB: received 17.04.09 0742 GMT


Pitman David Pella fixing a rope on the backstay, onboard Delta Lloyd, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

Nail biting third

"Puma is coming to us on starboard tack, standby tack, three more lengths."

1.3 nm from the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha and our battle for third place reaches its climax. The whole day we have been fighting with both the clouds and the rest of the fleet.

Our main battle has been with Telefónica Black, but at the last moment PUMA has gone around the outside of a big light patch under a squall and has made huge gains. Now at the last moment the wind has gone left too much for us and PUMA is closing in fast. It is not sure whether we will cross her.

"Tacking! 0.2 nm to the scoring gate, this is the course. PUMA now five boat lengths behind us."

Every time we are close to another boat we are losing slowly but steadily on boat speed, which is incredibly strenuous on the nerves. Now, again, PUMA is closing in on us, but it is not far to go.

"Congratulations, we have just crossed the scoring gate in third."

The message is received on deck with loud cheers, people shaking hands and jumping up and down. An excellent result for all of us here on Team Delta Lloyd. Everybody has put in 110% the last days and worked their hardest as a team. The feeling is great, especially because the result again is due to good sailing, not luck.

The last 18 hours have been incredibly intense with both Ericsson 4 and Telefónica Black always within sight and big squalls coming in from the east.

Ericsson 4 passed us in the morning and has been steadily sailing away from us, and Telefónica Black and PUMA are relentlessly coming closer from behind. Today we are really seeing the difference in boat speed between our first generation boat and her younger sisters. No problem, it just means we will have to work harder and smarter.

Each squall has its own story. It is hard to tell how much wind we can expect from each cloud and the 25 knot gusts come almost unannounced. Everybody is soaking wet as we are grinding sails up, unfurling and furling sails, dropping jibs and hoisting them again 30 minutes later. It is complete madness really, but also some of the very best sailing you can do. Credit goes to our physical trainer George in Brazil, who has gotten all of us in great shape at the starting line. To keep going at it nonstop for 18 hours we have to be super fit and that is exactly how we feel right now. Thanks George!

The next 24 hours we can expect more cloud action as we are crossing the Doldrums to find our way to the NE trades in the northern hemisphere. We are trying to find a balance between going north and getting to the new wind first, and going lower more on course to the mark.

For now we are happy to mainly work on getting to the NE trades and getting through the light and squally messy area as quick as we can. After the last 24 hours we are fully done with clouds, but I am afraid I will have to tell the boys we are in for another 24 hours. How to tell them that? At least everybody has gotten some sleep again, and we are of course boosted by the good result. What a fantastic race this is.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG SIX DAY 7 QFB: received 17.04.09 0109 GMT


Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) are first through the scoring gate of Fernando de Noronha at 19:58:56 GMT 16/04/09, securing 4 points, on of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Simon Fisher (helmsman)

Today has been a good day. We finally seized upon something that has proved elusive in this race until now - a first place at a scoring gate!

With the four points safely under our belt we have now rounded Fernando de Noronha and are continuing our way north towards the doldrums and then the NE trades that will carry us back towards the north Atlantic.

Passing the island of Fernando was a good milestone and an opportunity to look upon some spectacular scenery. However I am beginning to question it as a desirable holiday destination as both times we have been passed in this race it has been pouring with rain!

All is well on board, life remains busy as ever as squalls and clouds seem to dominate our days, even when it is relatively clear we remain ever vigilant. Today has brought better wind too, and for the first time on this leg, we have seen wind speeds over 20 knots which has brought a welcome return to some fast sailing. It is however, pretty wet on board when we are blasting along but with the sea temperature up at 30 degrees getting a good soaking is not so much of a problem!!

We have managed to stretch a little on the fleet behind but despite now having passed the scoring gate, the bit is still firmly between our teeth. As we head north and into the night the wind is likely to get increasingly unstable and as a result we will have to fight to keep our lead. It is important now that we be the first through the doldrums and into the trades as that may well be our golden opportunity to stretch on the fleet. So far so good but, as ever, there is no time to relax!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG SIX DAY SIX QFB: received 16.04.09 2123 GMT


Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) are first through the scoring gate of Fernando de Noronha at 19:58:56 GMT 16/04/09, securing 4 points, on of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

The second time in a row to be first boat at Fernando de Noronha, and it was a little less stressful than last time, when we just pipped ABN AMRO ONE. But the rounding didn't come easy, heavy squalls accompanied us, and 10 miles before the gate the breeze dropped from 23 knots to 3 knots.

[SailRaceWin: Bouwe is referring to the 2005-6 Volvo Ocean Race in the paragraph above, when his boat, Movistar, was first to the same gate. Telefonica Blue was fifth at this scoring gate on leg 1 of the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race.]

S"*T was the first reaction, but we made again the right call on the sail choice and soon we were off again. We rounded just before it became dark, in huge rain squall, so visibility was reduced, but we had glimpse of the island.

Just had a short chat with Tom Addis (navigator) to reflect on the first part, and we can't see where we made any mistakes, plus of course the boat has done a good job for us. When it became tight we managed to pull away again. So we are all happy to have beaten Ericsson 4. Let’s see if we can keep going like this until the finish............which is still long away.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA - Making the Most of My Time


Cruise ship 'swallows up' Ericsson 3. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Rick Deppe

A beautiful morning here on il mostro. Shannon driving the boat and the lads are having one of those "Las Vegas" discussions. Not much change in our circumstances out here; same wind same angle and still bloody hot. On a positive note we seem to have found a little bit of extra speed from somewhere and overnight we managed to pass E3, whose bow light we can see about a half mile behind us to leeward. In the late afternoon yesterday, a huge cruise ship passed between E3 and us - from il mostro it looked as though they were being swallowed up by the Death Star (see picture above)! Fortunately, they popped out the back about two minutes later... no description needed. Some speculation regarding the destination of the cruise ship, possibly Fernando 235 miles away, just like us.


Shannon Falcone driving at sunrise. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Depending on your point of view one of the great things about being out here is that you have a lot of time, and in my case I also have the freedom to choose what to do with that time. If I wanted to I, could stay in bed all day, but of course I couldn’t do that. One fact alone keeps me out of the bunk – it is unimaginably uncomfortable. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I have no fan so most of this leg I will be literally laying there in a pool of my own sweat. The bunks have mesh inside the frame so that air can circulate, but I have to keep the pad on mine because an aluminum bar runs right down the middle of my back. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not complaining and consider myself fortunate to have a dry spot to lie down in.


Rick Deppe squeezes into his bunk. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Getting in and out of the bunk is an exercise in extreme flexibility when the boat is stacked out- there is no way for me to lower the bunk and having only about 10 cm of clearance between me and the person above me means that I cannot roll over, thereby requiring that I do a sort of horizontal limbo/slither to get in and out. My rough calculation is that there are only about 30 more days of racing remaining, I think I'll make it.


Counting down the days, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

Friday, 17 April 2009

iShares Cup: From Groupama 3 to Groupama 40


Groupama 40. Image copyright Yvan Zedda.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Though the programme for the maxi-trimaran Groupama 3 is living up to all expectations, unfortunately this won't be the case for the ORMA circuit in which Groupama 2 was racing as, due to a lack of competitors, the triple world champion in the series has today been put into storage in Groupama team's yard in Lorient. To fill this void, Franck Cammas and his crew will be participating in the entire iShares Cup circuit, developed for the third consecutive year by Dame Ellen MacArthur and her associate, Mark Turner.

Contested aboard 12 metre long one-design catamarans referred to as "eXtreme 40s", the iShares circuit will make stopovers in six European countries: Italy, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Holland and Spain. Sailing aboard Groupama 40, Franck Cammas will rediscover some familiar faces from the multihull world, notably French sailors Loïck Peyron and Yann Guichard, as well as Australian James Spithill and even the double Olympic medallist Shirley Robertson, all of whom will be racing their own steeds.

In order to prepare for the first event which will be held in Venice in a month's time, Franck Cammas and his three crew, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier and Fred Le Maistre, have been sailing in Valencia in Spain, where there are two eXtreme 40s in the colours of Oracle and Yann Guichard's Gitana Extreme: "We've spent nearly a week training aboard Groupama 40. Clearly it's simpler than what we did aboard Groupama 2 as the boats are smaller. However, it's also more hotly contested as we all have the same boats and hence the same speeds".

A competitor through and through, Franck Cammas is already familiar with the iShares circuit after racing in Cowes last year and in Marseilles in 2007: "The course are very short. As such it's imperative that you get off to a good start, get on the right tack and manoeuvre well. The slightest error is paid for in cash" explains the skipper of Groupama 40.

As was the case when he raced in the ORMA Grand Prix circuit, Cammas has surrounded himself with a fantastic crew. Calling tactics is Tanguy Cariou, who has already sailed on Groupama and Groupama 2. In charge of the trimming is Thierry Fouchier, he too a familiar face aboard Groupama 2. Performing the manoeuvres is Frédéric Le Maistre, a newcomer in the team. A former crew of Alain Gautier on the Decision 35, he knows what's called for: "We needed a powerful guy in this position. Fred is exactly that, added to which he is very personable at sea and very determined."

In essence the crew aboard Groupama 40 is well grounded and well trained: "In Valencia, the bulk of the time was spent sailing in light winds. We'll have to see what happens in breezier conditions but one thing for sure is that the races are going to be very hotly contested. We're in contact with each other the whole time. It's full-on" concludes Franck, who's just left Valencia for Venice, where the maxi trimaran Groupama 3 awaits him: "The boats don't have much in common. However, we're going to make the most of the opportunity to stake out the race zone, which is a good thing."

Cammas - Groupama

Audi MedCup 2009: TP52 Pisco Sour 'Polished and Shining'


Pisco Sour, ready for the 2009 Audi MedCup circuit. Supplied image.

by Dabliu Sail Project (summarised in translation)

CHI 2110, Pisco Sour, the former Mutua Madrilena, will take part in the 2009 Audi MedCup TP52 circuit. She has been entered, without a sponsor (as yet) by Vasco Vascotto, who, as helmsman of the Damiani Italia Challenge, finished fourth in the recent Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland.


Pisco Sour in the shed. Supplied image.

"The boat has been modified to include the latest ideas of designer Rolf Vrolijk", according to Vascotto, who is the technical director of the Dabliu Sail Project. "This means that she resembles the boats most recently designed by that studio - Matador and Artemis."


Pisco Sour, polished and shining for the 2009 season. Supplied image.

Most of the crew will remain the same, but Alberto Bolzan has been brought in as helmsman. "I believe that he is one of the greatest prospects in international sailing", said Vascotto.

Dabliu Sail Project

iShares Cup: Sailing Superstars Line Up for 2009 iShares Cup


Crowds watch the Extreme 40s racing close to shore at Kiel, Germany. Image copyright Kiel Marketing GmbH.

by Emily Caroe

In brief
- Forty world-class sailors
- Six European venues
- Nine different nationalities
- Three French multihull legends
- Only one iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series

In detail
The iShares Cup 2009 fleet will feature 40 of the World's best sailors, who between them have over 50 World Championship titles, 27 America's Cup participations, 17 Round the World navigations and 14 Olympic campaigns. From inshore to offshore, from technical dinghy specialists to giant multihull gladiators, these sailors are riding high at the peak of their professional sailing careers.

Forty sailors across 10 teams are now officially confirmed for the 2009 series and it is anticipated that the competition will be intense in what has become sailing's hottest property.

Forget everything you thought you knew about sailboat racing, the iShares Cup is the perfect antidote to distant slow yacht confrontations! Bringing world-class combat up close and personal to the public since 2007, the iShares Cup is back in 2009 with yet more great names and six spectacular European venues.

Loïck Peyron and Franck Cammas, who are unrivalled in the oceanic multihull world. In addition to having five World Oceanic Multihull Champion titles to his name, Peyron won The Artemis Transat in 2008 making it three career wins on the toughest solo transatlantic course and in doing so rising one step above French legend Eric Tabarly. Peyron joined the Oman Sail project in March this year and will now be charge of his own Extreme 40, Renaissance, for this season.

Cammas holds the North Atlantic speed record and has recently been "teaching" the BMW ORACLE Racing team how to use their brand new maxi (90') trimaran. The young French skipper already had a taste of the iShares Cup having raced at the French event in 2007 and at Cowes last year, and wanted to come back for a full season with his long-term sponsor Groupama.

Double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson will skipper Team iShares in 2009 and the Olympic contingent is also represented by Carolijn Brouwer on Holmatro, Yann Guichard on Gitana Extreme- Groupe LCF Rothschild, Darren Bundock on BT and Pete Cumming with Chris Draper on the helm of Oman Sail's second Extreme 40, Masirah - not to mention the plethora of Olympian crew members throughout the fleet, including the Mourniac brothers aboard Erik Maris's LUNA.

Australian Nick Moloney brings his eclectic experience as a round-the-world and America's Cup sailor back into the fray with BT, after finishing the 2008 iShares Cup on the podium.

Also coming from the prestigious world of the America's Cup, James Spithill onboard BMW ORACLE Racing will be a real rival for the number one spot.

The final top-flight team will announce their participation in the coming weeks to make it ten teams in total coming head to head on the demanding, short and sometimes unconventional courses, competing so fiercely that heart-stopping close encounters always feature on the menu.

It's a show as well as top class racing and the public has full access to the action from the shore, in carefully chosen venues that combine challenging sailing conditions and spectator-friendly configurations.

Three of the European venues have been officially announced - Venice (ITA), Kiel (GER) and Almeria, Andalucía (ESP) - the remaining three venues in the UK, France and The Netherlands are confirmed and will be announced shortly.

Get ready for a great season of iShares Cup drama...

2009 Entries iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series:

BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) - James Spithill (AUS)
BT (EUR) - Nick Moloney (AUS)
Holmatro (NED) - Carolijn Brouwer (BEL)
iShares (EUR) - Shirley Robertson (GBR)
Gitana Extreme- Groupe LCF Rothschild (FRA) - Yann Guichard (FRA)
Groupama 40 (FRA) - Franck Cammas (FRA)
LUNA (FRA) - Erik Maris (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) - Pete Cumming (GBR)
Oman Sail Renaissance (OMA) - Loïck Peyron (FRA)
& another top flight team to be announced shortly...

2009 Venues iShares Cup Extreme 40 Sailing Series:

Event 1 - Venice, Italy, 15th to 17th May
Event 2 - France, 3rd to 5th July
Event 3 - United Kingdom, 1st to 3rd August
Event 4 - Kiel, Germany, 28th to 30th August
Event 5 - The Netherlands, 25th to 27th September
Event 6 - Almería, Andalucía, 10th to 12th October

iShares Cup

VOR: Green Dragon - Leg 6 Day 6: Countdown to the Scoring Gate


Green Dragon's dragon and shamrock. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing.

by Lucy Harwood

There are less than 170 nm left to the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha and winds have dropped below the 9 knot mark as the fleet is due at the gate today by midnight. Telefónica Blue are holding onto their lead, but Torben Grael and his men have moved up to second and are just 17 miles from their stern. It will be battle to see if the blue boat can hold them off as they need to secure as many points ahead of them as possible. The fleet are still caught in reaching conditions as they make their way through the south east trade winds, these are tough times for Green Dragon as the fleet extends, but with over 3,500 miles still remaining there will be more opportunities further up the race course. Current forecasts show that the conditions should improve as they head into the north-easterly trade winds over the next week.

Despite the boat’s position, spirits are high. “There are no gambles to be had, it’s just reaching along basically. All we can do is try to make our boat go faster; sail as well as we can and try to keep as focused as possible. To keep spirits high the crew talk about what they are going to do after the race. But in anyway it’s easy to handle when you just got to reach. It’s harder when the boat is in the middle of the ocean making loses. But right now we are where we are and good news is that at least we have a pretty good forecast and we are going to make pretty fast miles over the next week.” - Skipper Ian Walker.


Andrew McLean helms the Dragon. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing.

With the return of Anthony Merrington and Ian Moore it feels like the original team is back. “I’m very comfortable with Ian Moore, I’ve sailed a lot with him” says Ian Walker.

Green Dragon’s skipper also highlighted today the importance of safety and described the crisis communication procedure: “Safety is the most important thing onboard, particularly for me as a skipper, trying to ensure the safety of the boat and the crew. It’s a three principle concern. First of all, some kind of medical emergency in case one of the crew members injury, accident or illness. Secondly, man over board, which we are trained for. The third lead is anything that might threaten the boat such a collision or dismasting. First of all we try to secure the situation and then we try to contact the duty officer of Volvo to let them know what is going on.

"In terms of communication from the boat, we’ve got various forms: by e-mail broadband and normal e-mail connection, satellite phone and the radio. In terms of medical emergency we’ve got three medical kits onboard. The ‘day kit’ which is a version of what everybody should have at home, just for common things such as headache, bandages, plasters, creams, etc. Secondly, we have the slightly more serious kit with the stuff that normally the doctor would administer, for instance, antibiotics or prescription creams. Then we have another case which is sealed and we are not allowed to access unless we really have an emergency. It is a kind hospital administer kit, for instance, to carry out a mini operation using drips etc. Of course, everything we do would be guided from England. We have a team doctor and also the Volvo doctor who we can contact 24 hours a day.”

Leg Six Day 6: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

1. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) DTF 3,653 nm
2. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +17
3. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 19
4. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +23
5. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +29
6. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +31
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +60

Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG SIX DAY 6 QFB: received 16.04.09 1310 GMT


Richard Mason, keeping track of PUMA Ocean Racing, onboard Ericsson 3, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin

The evil wave

Early this morning we finally got some more action out here. The breeze picked up from around 10 knots to over 14 and we quickly decided to go from mast head zero to a smaller and flatter headsail. That was a good decision since the wind increased even more just after we were done with the change. Now we have steadily over 14 knots and every now and then a wave makes it way over deck.

The first big wave to hit us in this leg flushed Magnus Olsson into the pedestal around the wheel. He was knocked out and had to take a pause. It was his ribs which were hurt but he managed to go down below and climb up in a bunk without help, and since he was still talking and even laughing it shouldn't be that bad.

"I was not prepared for that wave at all. It really feels stupid to be hit like this by the first wave that reaches the deck", Magnus commented before he went to sleep.
Richard Mason, who is running ‘the no mercy medical clinic’ onboard, woke up just after Magnus went to sleep and he tried to have a look at the bruise without waking him up. No conclusion could be made and we will have to wait with the examination until later.

Mason couldn't help wondering if he brings bad luck to Ericsson 3. "On the entire last leg, when I was not onboard, you did not have many injuries at all, and now this happens almost straight away!"

From what I can remember about last leg it was only Martin Strömberg who broke a rib, Thomas Johansson who got some bruises and Anders Dahlsjö who had some problems with his elbows towards the end. Not much for a 44 day sail. Now it only took five days for something to happen.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG SIX DAY 6 QFB: RECEIVED 16.04.09 1330 GMT

by Guy Salter

A few days ago I asked the simple question to the lads: ‘If Hollywood were to make a blockbuster movie about this trip - who would you choose to play you?’

I filmed some of the responses and have been a little surprised as to how much interest it has still generated amongst the crew. With lots of different suggestions from each every watch I thought it would make a lot more sense to hear from everyone watching the race as to whom you may cast in our roles. Let us know via our website (www.ericssonracingteam.com) where you can follow a link and send us a message onboard - we do receive these messages and are happy for some contact.

Names which have been mentioned of recent include Brad Pitt, Kirk Douglas, Omar Sheriff and Dame Edna Everage - so as you can see there is a very varied selection and all depend upon how each of us sees themselves and how we see others - luckily everybody is taking it in the light-hearted manner - at the moment that it is!

On the water its amazing how for so many hours you have no visuals of any other boat and then a slight loss of half a mile or a change in light (e.g. later in the day) and you see several competitors. At present we are having a good little ding dong battle for second place with Delta Lloyd, a boat most onboard know very well as they either raced it in its former life as ABN or sailed it in its former life as Ericsson 2. It’s great to see the older generation boat doing so well after their forced break for leg four and five.

We have also spotted the other absentee from the last leg Telefónica Black sailing down towards us both so it’s going to make a very interesting few hours into the scoring gate at Noronha.

Last night I was chatting to Joca Signorini and he said that if you mentioned to any Brazilian that you were sailing to Noronha and not stopping then they would think you are crazy - this is the second time we are doing so in this race!

Maybe a pit stop in a few beautiful tropical paradises should be considered for the next race! Or is that the cruising me trying to break out from within?

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLACK LEG SIX DAY SIX QFB: received 16.04.09 0136 GMT


Telefonica Black, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Anton Paz/Telefonica Black/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Roger Nilson (navigator)

Five boats have a real ‘drag race’ on for the last 340 nm to Noronha. Telefónica Blue can watch the action behind her as she has sailed excellently and should make the scoring gate first, no problem. She has stretched her lead and probably there are no more passing lanes are available.

The South East trades are expected to be more steady than they were today which also will make it difficult for Green Dragon to catch up with the pack of five in the middle. Leading this group now is Ericsson 4 and knowing her impressive reaching speed, she will be hard to pass even if there is only 10 nm from her to Ericsson 3 with Delta Lloyd, Puma and us in between.

Looking out in the darkness of the crystal clear tropical night, we can see Delta's white stern light, a bit ahead on our starboard side and the green navigation lights of Puma and Ericsson 3 on our port beam. In which order will we arrive to this fairly unknown island Fernando de Noronha? The day after tomorrow you will know...

All well onboard the Black boat except a small charging problem which David Vera seems to have fixed by making better ventilation for the over-heated regulator. I guess we all feel a bit overheated, both when it comes to below deck temperature but also from the heat of the fight against our nearest competition, Puma, Delta and Ericsson 3. Speed, speed and more speed is what we all are looking for right now...

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG SIX DAY 5 QFB: received 15.04.09 2200 GMT


Daryl Wislang at the helm of Telefonica Blue, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

Can’t sleep, so will write few lines and to let you all know how we are doing.

Still in the lead, but the conditions are very tricky, and I know everything can happen. Strangely enough we are in the same position as in the previous race, where the same boat is chasing us. Then we knew we had a bit on, as the ABN boat was more than 1.5 knots faster on a close reach. We beat them by only two or three minutes to the scoring gate.

At least that is not the case anymore. When we have similar pressure we should be able to hold off Delta Lloyd, but as said big losses/gains can be made very easily, so it not over until we are there and we cannot relax a single minute.

All the boats are still in striking distance and an upset can easy happen in this part of the world. Is it fair that we get the same amount of points as the for example the 6.4 mile inshore race in Rio. I guess so, as that is the rule. But I hope the organisation will review this for the next edition. The in-port races are great for the stopover organisers and the sponsors, but I would like to see only points for the first three boats. The winner of the days gets 1.75 points, 2nd place 1 point and 3rd place 0.5 points. The rest of the fleet don’t get any points. I think this concept shows that this is an offshore race, and easy to understand for the public. They an even understand that the winner gets a very small bonus of .25 points for their great form of the day.

So all well here, everybody gets a nice tan, but as Xabi (Xabier Fernandez) noted Sifi (Simon Fisher) starts looking like a real ‘pom’. Red face, and a white upper body, with red arms. I think he got the message; tomorrow his shirt will be off, so he gets a more even colour.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SIX DAY 6 QFB: received 16.04.09 0824 GMT


Delta Lloyd Boat Captain Nick Bce fixes a gage on the primary winch, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Sander Pluijm/Team Delta Lloyd/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

Fernando within reaching distance

‘Eight knots guys, all weight forward.’ When we hear this call on the Team Delta Lloyd boat, we know we are in trouble. We love our boat dearly, but she doesn’t like it very much when winds drop below the nine knot mark. Her rather big bum is starting to glue to the water, so we have to help her with all means possible to lift her up again.

It means our usual coal mine labour downstairs with dragging the 1000 kg of food, spares, boots and foul weather gear forward. Laboursome for sure, but worth it, because the reward is a precious few tenths more boat speed. We are in desperate need of this to cross the light wind patch of the east tip of Brazil near Recife. To the north stronger winds are awaiting us, and get to these first and you can make a jump on the fleet.

The rubber band effect as usual is doing its job too. Yesterday afternoon we could see both Telefónica Blue and Telefónica Black behind us as the fleet got compressed. A painful six hours and we were out, but not fully undamaged. Ericsson 4 did well out of it all. We need to work even more on our light wind pace, especially as we know this is were our lady’s weak point lies.

Since the light patch we have been making our planned move west to set up for more lifted winds later today. Now we have found our friends (but mostly rivals) on Ericsson 4, and are charging along side by side towards the scoring gate. Two hundred nm to go and the battle for second place is all on. Two sisters fighting it out mile by mile, every tenth of a knot of boat speed is counting. The younger sister might have a nice set of wheels, but the older sister is well tuned with more than a full lap around the planet behind her. The trimming on Team Delta Lloyd is non-stop as we are trying to squeeze everything out of the old Lady. It will be an exciting day to Fernando the Noronha; she is truly within reaching distance. Looking forward to crossing the gate!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG SIX DAY 5 QFB: received 1527 GMT


Telefonica Blue, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Simon Fisher (helmsman)

The game of cat and mouse continues with the boats behind as we make our way north towards Fernando de Noronha and the scoring gate for the leg.

Last night the navigation lights of Ericsson 4 came into to view and then disappeared but Delta Lloyd appeared and has since been ever present on the horizon. With Delta Lloyd up to windward it has give us something tangible to measure our performance against in between each sched and has forced us to push even harder to defend our position. So far so good though, over the course of the morning we have gained a few precious degrees despite having to continually battle with clouds and squalls that cross our path.

Relative to the rest of the fleet, each position report brings either small gains or small loses as no doubt each of the boats in the fleet have to contend with the ups and downs that the squall clouds bring also, however when one rolls over you it is hard not to feel like you are the only one being slowed!

Despite the busy times on deck, life is good on the whole. The weather is hot and sunny with decent breeze (most of the time) which has resulted in us making good miles to the waypoint so far. However, to claim all the points there are on offer we will no doubt have to keep pushing hard all the way. Even as I write, the wind is dropping as, yes, you've guessed it, a big cloud is crossing our path. Despite being nearly 10 miles away the wind is dropping away along with our boat speed. No doubt the guys on deck will be working hard but looking nervously over their shoulders until the wind starts to build again.

Volvo Ocean Race

Thursday, 16 April 2009

VOR: PUMA LEG SIX DAY 5 QFB: received 15.04.09 1407 GMT


PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kenny Read (skipper)

I wish I could say we were sailing really badly. Fact is, these boats are raising their games all the time and this drag race to Fernando has been decided so far on a couple of fairly random wind shifts and a cloud or two. It is simply that close.

Since the first night break by Telefónica Blue and Green Dragon, we have gone through a couple transition zones where the winds got a bit fluky and a couple clouds made heroes or zeroes out of il mostro.

First the zero part. One squall on night three put a five to seven mile separation between ourselves and the two Ericsson boats, which we are constantly glued to. But off they went, over the horizon at night in a squall that gave them a significant breeze advantage and headed us about 60 degree's. Boom, done, gone. Time to re-group.

A painful day later, after watching all in front get slowly and painfully further ahead - same thing but in reverse. One night time sched showed a five mile gain to the good guys for no apparent reason except that Ericsson 3 had sailed into a cloud ahead and got shut down for a bit. Kind of them to wait for us, as Magnus Olsson did say that his plan was to be glued to us the entire leg. I doubt even he thought it was going to be this literally.

Since then we have gotten back into similar water with the group and had several good scheds in a row, albeit very small gains, but gains none the less. The difference in speed out here is ridiculously small, which magnifies the small mistake or bit of misfortune that much more. It is very puffy and fluky which keeps the winches on deck constantly moving and screeching. We will all be deaf once this race is over. Any ease on a winch is brutally loud.

But the mood on board went from quite sober to remarkably upbeat with a few good scheds. We are in the hunt and understand completely how the chips have fallen so far. We simply have to avoid that one big mistake. Somehow.

450 miles to Fernando, then the sprint to Boston. Starting to smell the clam chowder from here.

Of course the scoring gate at Fernando is important but then simply being close to the pack as we enter the doldrums is critical. The boats that have a lead popping out on the other side into the northeast trades will have quite a jump and historically a fairly insurmountable lead. We have to figure out a way to be in that lead pack. Really very simple in theory. A bit more complex to deliver.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG SIX DAY 5 QFB: received 15.04.09 1330 GMT


Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Stu Bannatyne (watch captain)

Day four is almost over on Ericsson 4 and the frantic sail changes and gear changing of the previous few days seems to be slowing down. We are entering a period of more stable breeze and the sailing is very pleasant on deck - shorts and tee-shirts are all that is required (unless of course you are going forward to the always wet bow area of Ericsson 4). Time to reflect a little on the race so far and what the future may hold.

The last two stopovers have been very short, Qingdao by design and Rio by virtue of our extra long voyage on leg five. This has put a lot of pressure on shore crews to complete job lists and the sailors are given precious little time to recover before putting to sea again. Particularly in Rio there was barely enough time to regain weight (although four trips to Porcao helped in this department!) let alone any conditioning or strength lost on the previous leg. This means that most of the sailors on leg six will still be at sub-optimum physically, add to this the travelling for the guys that flew home from Rio and it makes for a tough turn around. This leg will also be tough as we make many sail changes in hot weather and then at the end will likely be in freezing cold temperatures again as we approach Boston.

There is a lot of talk about the next edition of the race and most of the sailors would be keen on a few longer stopovers. If this is not the plan then I think it is likely we will see a more active rotation policy on all boats and potentially sailing squads of three or four more than the race crew number. Maybe this a good thing for the race as more sailors will take part but it will escalate costs for the teams which is a downside to consider.

Regardless of the ultimate setup for the next race I am sure there will be a large number of the current sailors lining up again for another shot. There are just too many highlights of being involved in this race to consider not doing it again and for some reason most of my bad memories are quickly forgotten while the most enjoyable moments remain fresh in my mind long afterwards. So no doubt will probably see you again next time (assuming we can get through the rest of this race intact!) - regardless of the ultimate race format.

by Guy Salter

One thing that has improved no end onboard Ericsson 4 is the snacks programme. There are more sweet and savoury snacks than you could imagine onboard and all carefully selected by Joca Signorini. It definitely helps when one of your own is a local and Joca has come up trumps with a varied selection of snacks which I guess are his childhood favourites. In fact I will need to ask his family whether Joca's favourite is a bar called a ‘Trio’ as he seems to be a little partial to these.

If we were to stop in the UK on this race and if I were in charge of the snacks then the list would be endless - skips, quavers, wheat crunchies, flying saucers........... and not forgetting Walker's new favourite 'onion bhaji' flavoured crisps. It’s amazing what you think about in the long silent hours onboard!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG SIX DAY 5 QFB: received 15.04.09 1450 GMT


Ericsson 3, skippered by Magnus Olsson (SWE), at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin

"Bang!"

It is last night, darkness, 12 knots of wind. Suddenly a very loud bang goes through the boat. I’m sitting in the media station fixing the electricity and have just restarted the media desk. I instantly swear that I can’t press the crash button, this seems to be dramatic.

It almost felt like the mast was about to come down. When we came up on deck it turns out that it was not far from it. The topmast runner had snapped.

Magnus Woxén was standing by the helm at the time and it almost landed on his head, but he and everyone were ok and since Martin Strömberg, who was trimming at the time, instantly eased the sheets, the mast was ok. Seconds after that we dropped the masthead zero and hoisted a genoa.

Bowman Martin Krite directly started to think about looking for the spare topmast runner and figure out the best way to fix it.

After some preparation he climbed up the mast and attached the new topmast and we were good to go again. We could all the time sail at almost 100 per cent with the genoa and we didn't lose much due to this.

The bang that came from the breakage was the loudest I have experienced since I stepped on this boat. Even so it was not enough to wake up our skipper Magnus Olsson, boat captain Jens Dolmer and helmsman Thomas Johansson...

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: DELTA LLOYD LEG SIX DAY 5 QFB: received 15.04.09 0958 GMT


Delta Lloyd, skippered by Roberto Bermudez (ESP) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

Are those guys drunk?

Following our wallowing tracks one might think that we have supplemented our freeze dried food with some caipirinhas from Brazil. Certainly a little cocktail at sunset would be very welcome indeed, but I can guarantee you, there is not a drop of alcohol to be found on our boat. So what is up with our drunken man's track?

Some call it myth, some live by it, and onboard it is known as the diurnal variation [fluctuations that occur during each day]. Some of the more funny guys amongst us bastardise it to di-urinal variation, but the understanding is the same. If you believe the theory this variation in the wind speed and direction is typical for the trades and goes through a daily cycle. The mornings bring more wind and more left wind, the afternoons bring lighter and more right wind. At the same time the evening brings squalls and more left wind again, and night time has some lighter and more right wind.

As we are now all close reaching, the differences in boatspeed for a slight change in wind angle are quite significant. With the winds doing their daily dance, instead of staying on course and adjusting the sails, we are following their lead.

We know that it is OK to be a bit below course in the mornings and evenings and maintain our speed as we can expect to be lifted and lighter again later.

Significant gains can be made by sailing this way, but it can be risky business as well if the expected lift in the afternoon doesn't come.

Yesterday and this morning have been perfect examples, and one might start to actually believe in this seaman's tale. It all helps my nerves, as it means that the models that are not very good at picking up this oscillation are not complete rubbish and can be used for the bigger picture plan.

Today looks to be a crucial day for the fleet. We are passing the most eastern tip of Brasil, and it is here that the differences between being inshore or offshore are felt best. We have invested in a more offshore position, which has meant slower sailing and more distance travelled and today we will have to see if we can reap the benefits of this. The forecast certainly shows light winds along the shore this afternoon, so at the moment we are making sure we are keeping our easterly position to the fleet.

Models however are notoriously poor in this area, and it always throws a little curve ball just when you think you have figured it all out. Nothing to do but to keep sailing hard, stay focused and monitor the fleet. Not long now to the scoring gate and boy, are the guys onboard keen to keep our second place!

Volvo Ocean Race

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG SIX DAY 4 QFB: received 14.04.09 2127 GMT


Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Simon Fisher (helmsman)

So much for getting 'safely into the trades' the last day has seen us battling constantly with cloud after cloud, some of which bring lots of wind and others end up leaving us with none so we have had to be constantly on our toes and ready to change sails in order to keep our pace on and stay ahead of the chasing pack.

It is fair to say though that the day has been a little more stable than last night. During the hours of darkness it seemed as if we were in a constant battle with the weather and always changing from one sail to another. This meant not much sleep and a lot of grinding however, despite the fatigue at the end of your watch, and the certainty that you will have to be back on deck as soon as your head hit the pillow, it has paid off and despite losing a few miles last night we have hung onto our lead so far.

With the sun setting once again we are preparing ourselves for another busy night as the first few spots of rain have started to hit the deck and the wind has started to play its little games with us. With last night’s experience under our belt now, hopefully we can be a little smarter tonight having got a better feeling for how the squalls seem to be working and how quick they move. Whatever happens though I am quite sure we are going to have to work hard again to get through the night with our lead intact.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG SIX DAY 4 QFB: received 14.04.09 1809 GMT


Daryl Wislang and Tom Addis checking out on the rivals at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Tom Addis (navigator)

My first report of the leg. Sorry this is a bad/late start!

A good start by us.... We always saw the Rio to Cabo Frio section as absolutely critical to this leg – a good placing at Frio should be able to get translated to a good placing at the Fernando scoring gate – the classic ‘rich getting richer’ scenario.

Hooked into a beautiful shift on night one and sailed around the fleet with Green Dragon and from there, we have been able to get the lane we want for the trip north and pretty much hold onto it to date.

Squalls are now becoming a feature of the leg to Fernando – this means potential for big gains and losses so it’s no longer such plain sailing but it’s the same for everyone so we just have to manage them as best we can and let the rest happen – every boat’s experience in this stuff is completely different, a few miles separation can be like a different world. We didn’t have a great night last night in this regard and lost miles on everyone – will try to do better tonight with what nature sends our way!

I’m starting to look at the options after Fernando now, I haven’t spent much time on this to date as it doesn’t change our plans from here to the scoring gate at all – but its time to start looking and formulate a bit of a game plan. The first thing that goes through my mind is that I’ll miss the Southern Cross at night as we head north! Hopefully I’ll be able to come up with something more useful soon!!

Life on the boat is great. Warm, dry (most of the time), flat water, a new menu from Gabri (Gabriele Olivo MCM) and great to have our old mates Pepe (Pepe Ribes), Daryl (Daryl Wislang) and Laurent (Laurent Pages) back.

Not much else to report really – sailed through heaps of what I call toadfish last night (no idea if this is the right name, there is one in Finding Nemo who blows himself up whenever he gets excited), squillions (or dare I say Brazillions) of them on their way to annoy amateur fishermen at jetties around the world.
650nm to Fernando.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA - We'll Get There


PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Rick Deppe

With around 750 miles to the gate at Fernando, I'm amazed at the way the race has changed my sense of time and distance. Capey and I were idly chatting this morning about the way we can just walk down the dock, throw some gear on the boat and set off on a 5000 mile leg with very little fuss. Of course we want to do well in the race and we must be sure that everything is taken care of in our own particular area, but pretty much we take this leg on as though we were going out on an overnight trip.

A big part of it has to be trust. Trust that our support team has taken care of all the technical and race preparation tasks required during the stopover, trust that our team-mates have each taken care of their responsibilities and are ready to take on the challenge alongside one another. The race hardens you up and teaches what's important.

We don't worry too much at this stage of the game about having all the fancy stuff the same way we did at the start. Its just head down in the trenches trying to get the job done with what you have in hand. But most of all, you become more patient- 750 miles to the gate, then another 3000 to the finish. No biggy, we'll get there.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Battle of Nerves


Silhouettes on leg 6. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Cameron Kelleher

According to the Art of War, the Chinese military treatise, you keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Well, in the skirmish on the South Atlantic battlefield, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is taking Sun Tzu’s advice. None more so than PUMA.

“The two Ericssons are in sight,” says PUMA's navigator, Andrew Cape, gesturing towards the sisterships. “Telefonica Black behind us there, to windward, Telefonica Blue out to sea in front, Delta Lloyd abeam of us just in front by 20 miles.

"It will be interesting to see how it works out as we are the leeward boat and we’ve got to hope we can hang in here for another day. If the wind suits us down here then we’ve got to make our play for the big island.”

The “big island” is Fernando de Noronha, the scoring waypoint on Leg 6. As Cape was speaking it was a 700-mile drag race away to the north. Now that they are in the south-east trades it should be champagne sailing. Forget it says, Delta Lloyd’s Wouter Verbraak. It’s more cheap lager than Laurent Perrier.

As for strategy and tactics, it’s trench warfare on PUMA, according to Deppe. “We don't worry too much at this stage of the game about having all the fancy stuff the same way we did at the start of the race, it’s just head down in the trenches trying to get the job done with what you have.”

Meanwhile, the emails from the boats over the past 24 hours are dotted with references to clouds and squalls and potholes. There has been a spate of raids on sail wardrobes as a result.

According to Ericsson 3’s Gustav Morin, conditions overhead have been clouding the crew’s performance. “We have not been sailing very well the last couple of hours,” he said. “It has been very tricky conditions with a lot of squalls and we been on the limit of the range between two sails.

"We have changed from the masthead zero to a smaller headsail about six times in four hours. We have also lost a lot to most of our opponents. Most obvious we lost a lot to Ericsson 4 who had been just beside us for a long time.

"We are generally trying to avoid the big squalls but it seems that we sometimes just have to go straight into them. Once early this morning we were really happy to being able to avoid a big cloud while Ericsson 4 didn't. Unfortunately for us they got more wind inside the cloud and took off a couple of miles while we were lying still with no breeze at all. It’s tricky to foresee which cloud will pay off and which will not.”

Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker concurs. “Some boats lose more than others in the clouds which get dealt fairly randomly, particularly at dawn and dusk,” he said. “In the last 24 hours we have done fairly well at stopping the losses and that would seem to vindicate our slightly more offshore position.

"Our job now is to work hard to stay as close as we can for when the race opens up later in the leg.”

Hard work was the order of the day on “the night of the clouds” on Telefonica Blue, said skipper Bouwe Bekking. “The only thing I can say is that we survived, it could have been way worse. We parked up three times, and with parking I mean zero boat speed for a while. But we are still in front, I have seen several times in similar conditions, that the losses can be worse.

"We worked our butts off. I don't know how many sail changes we have done, so very irregular sleep, you could be just 10 minutes in the bunk and you were called up again, but since it is warm, I don't really mind.”

The fruits of Bekking’s labour are reflected in the leaderboard standings. By the 16:00 GMT Position Report, Telefonica Blue was maintaining her lead over Ericsson 4 (+10 miles Distance To Leader). Taking an offshore routing, Bekking and his men were within 200 miles of the Itabuna lighthouse on the Brazilian coast.

In the same bunch as Telefonica Blue was Delta Lloyd (+18) and Telefonica Black (+26). On the eastern flank, along with Ericsson 4, were Ericsson 3 (+23) and PUMA (+29). Green Dragon (+37), more centrally-positioned, was hanging in there.

Volvo Ocean Race

Audi MedCup: One Month Left to Prepare for First Regatta of 2009

Five regattas on the 2009 Audi MedCup Circuit means that each single regatta this season is more important, leaving less opportunity for crews to learn, change and optimise on the race course. With just four weeks left to the first regatta of the season, the curtain raiser that is the City of Alicante Trophy, TP52 and GP42 is coming up fast on the horizon.


Audi MedCup TP52s in port in 2008. Audi MedCup supplied image.

by Audi MedCup media

For teams who have to complete the preparation of their new boats, time will slip away quickly. The new Matador, having been built in Spain for Alberto Roemmers’ Argentinian team, will race this week at the Palma Vela regatta in Mallorca where three or four Audi MedCup TP52’s will compete as an important part of their build up to Alicante. So too John Cook’s Palma based Cristabella and both of the Russian boats Valars 3 (ex Mean Machine, Podolsky Kirill) and Synergy (ex USA 17) be competing at the big start of season regatta.

Time will be short for the two Cookson New Zealand built boats Artemis (Torbjorn Tornqvist, SWE) and Emirates Team New Zealand’s first TP52 which are due to come off the ship in Valencia during the first couple of days in May (Spanish holidays permitting!). Thereafter the following weekend in Valencia a number of boats are expected to train and practise race, before a final work up off Alicante.

2008 Audi MedCup Champion Quantum Racing has been training and tuning recently and has been optimised through the winter months too: “We"ve developed the aero optimization and sail development and introduced changes to the deck detailing and layouts as well as modifications to the structures to further improve the boats dynamic behaviour.” Confirms Shaun Carkeek of designers Botin Carkeek.

Jose Cusi’s 2008 Audi MedCup runner up Bribon was also due to be in action at the weekend and this week, but not racing on her native Palma waters. “We had not really planned it until we realised that we have a good opportunity with so many of the Bribon crew here to race at Palma Vela and a number are based here anyway and so it is a good opportunity.” Says Ignacio Triay, Bribon’s project manager.

Eleven TP52’s and six GP42’s seems likely to be the entry for the City of Alicante Trophy regatta, but both Triay, and the TP52’s class manager Rob Weiland confirm there is still a promising level of interest and activity from all around the world for possible charters for TP52’s for single and two or three Audi MedCup regattas this season.

“I think we might yet still see the same size of fleet at some regattas this season as we had last season which is quite encouraging. There is interest from several different countries which is very encouraging.” Comments Rob Weiland, TP52 Class Manager, who helps match potential charters to existing, available boats.

Racing at the City of Alicante Trophy starts with the Practise Race on Tuesday 12th May, thereafter racing for the TP52 Series points starts on Wednesday 13th May and the GP42 Series points racing starts on Thursday 14th after a Practise Race Wednesday.

Audi MedCup

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team Hones in on Leg 6 Lead


The Code Zero headsail on Ericsson 4 is sheeted tight as the crew works upwind in the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Victoria Low

A 330-nautical mile run in 24 hours is pedestrian for the Volvo Open 70 yacht, but it's been enough to push Ericsson 4 onto the stern of Telefónica Blue in the battle for the fleet lead on Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The Spanish boat has held the lead since Sunday morning, but overall race leader Ericsson 4, skippered by Brazilian Torben Grael, has steadily closed the gap. In the past 24 hours Ericsson 4 has halved its deficit to 8 nautical miles at the 1307 GMT position report.

"A couple of active cumulus clouds kept us busy last night but seem to have done us no harm as we managed to gain some ground on Telefonica Blue and open up a few miles on the chasing Ericsson 3, Puma and Telefónica Black, with whom we had spent most of yesterday," said Ericsson 4 bowman Ryan Godfrey.

Grael's International crew separated from the pack in a cloud line, while Ericsson 3 languished behind.

"We have lost a lot to most of our opponents. Most obvious, we lost a lot to Ericsson 4, which had been just beside us for a long time," said Ericsson 3 media crewman Gustav Morin.

"We are generally trying to avoid the big squalls, but it seems that we sometimes just have to go straight into them," Morin continued. "Once early this morning we were really happy to avoid a big cloud while Ericsson 4 didn't. Unfortunately for us, they got more wind inside the cloud and took of a couple of miles while we were lying still with no breeze at all."

The fleet is making way towards Ilha de Fernando de Noronha, an island about 200 nautical miles northeast of Natal, Brazil, and the lone scoring gate of the leg. The gate stretches eastward from the island along a line of latitude. The first boat earns 4 points and each boat thereafter a half-point less.

At today's position report, the wind was blowing mostly from the east-northeast between 10 and 12 knots, fast reaching conditions for the VO70s whose boatspeeds were nearly equal to the windspeeds. But the wind is forecast to soften tomorrow and the crews will have to chase the cloud lines in the search for pressure.

"The next 18 to 24 hours or so will be mainly a boatspeed test and some careful cloud management," said team meteorologist Chris Bedford. "Tomorrow, there could be nervous times for everyone while the breeze goes into a 12- to 24-hour period of less than 10 knots and possibly down to 5 or 6 knots at times. Also, another batch of squalls is expected with a shake-up possible from that. Once through the light spot, the final 24 hours into the scoring gate look reasonably good with recovering east-southeast/southeast pressure, but still a few squalls around to possibly mix things up."

The fleet departed Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday afternoon and is expected at the scoring gate on Thursday night.

Sailing approximately 170 nautical miles southeast of Salvador, Brazil, means the yachts are navigating the many oil rigs off the Brazilian coastline.

"It's quite impressive how the oil industry has grown around this area with a large amount of oil rigs and ships around. They look like cities when you see them in the distance at night," said Ericsson 4 trimmer Horacio Carabelli.

"The temperature has been rising as we get closer to the Equator," Carabelli continued. "There have been a lot of dolphins around, jumping like crazy and going in all directions, probably feeding. They paid a bit of attention on our yacht, but soon they went back to their fishing business."

VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEG 6 LEADERBOARD
(At 1307 GMT, Apr. 14, 2009)
1. Telefónica Blue, 4,232 nautical miles to finish
2. Ericsson 4, +8 NM
3. Delta Lloyd, +14 NM
4. Ericsson 3, +20 NM
5. Telefónica Black, +21 NM
6. Puma, +25 NM
7. Green Dragon, +32 NM

Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race