Wednesday, 20 May 2009

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team Garners Third at Scoring Gate

Ericsson Racing Team heading for Galway. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson Racing Team early this morning cleared the Leg 7 scoring gate of the Volvo Ocean Race in third and fourth place.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Brazil's Torben Grael, earned 3 points for clearing the gate in third place, 22 minutes behind the leader.

Ericsson 3, led by Sweden's Magnus Olsson, got 2.5 points for clearing the gate in fourth place, 30 minutes behind its teammate.

The scoring gate on the leg to Galway, Ireland, was the line of longitude at 52 degrees, 38 minutes West, extending south from Newfoundland and bisecting the southwestern boundary of the ice exclusion zone.

The two leaders and Ericsson 3 cleared the gate at the top one mile off the ice exclusion zone and then quickly tacked to port to honor the zone. Ericsson 4 was slightly farther south of the leading group, which included Telefónica Blue and Puma.

"We were neck and neck with Puma and Telefónica Blue, just 2 miles off our port bow," said Ericsson 4 watch captain Brad Jackson. "The final order was determined by pressure and the final shift. The boys are pushing hard."

Ericsson 4 crossed its two main competitors as they came south on port tack. Ericsson 4 tacked to port to cover them, and then all three were passed by Telefónica Black, which was still farther south.

The boats in the south willingly gave up top points at the gate for the chance of better positioning, and they're reaping that reward. The leaderboard at 1000 GMT is nearly upside down from what it was at the gate, with Telefónica Black and Delta Lloyd leading over Ericsson 4.

Richard Mason helming Ericsson 3 in fog. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson Racing Team.

Ericsson 3 paid a hefty price staying to the north in the quest for the scoring gate. It fell to seventh on the water after tacking to port and taking the transom of every boat in the fleet.

At the 1000 position report Ericsson 4 was lying third but among a group of four boats (including Telefónica Black, Puma and Telefónica Blue) that were separated by fewer than three and a half miles of latitude and about 12 miles of longitude.

The fleet will spend today beating around the southwest corner of the ice exclusion zone at 43 North/053 West. That point was about 122 miles away for Ericsson 4. With the wind blowing from the southeast, the International crew has a long day's slog ahead of it.

"After rounding the bottom of the exclusion zone we can get on our way to Ireland, which at the moment is looking like a fast trip," Jackson said. "All's good on the boat, we're all in good shape and looking forward to get to Ireland."

(At 1009 GMT, May 19, 2009)
1. Telefónica Black, 1,882 nautical miles to finish
2. Delta Lloyd, +6 NM
3. Ericsson 4, +7 NM
4. Puma, +12 nautical miles to finish
5. Telefónica Blue, +13 NM
6. Ericsson 3, +13 NM
7. Green Dragon, +47 NM

Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race

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