COCHIN, India – The Volvo Ocean Race returned to the high seas today for Leg 3. Ericsson Racing Team’s Ericsson 4 began the leg as the overall race leader with 26 points, and Ericsson 3 is placed fifth, 11.5 points behind.
According to the first position report issued for the leg at 1257 GMT, nearly three hours after the start, the fleet was tightly bunched with 3 nautical miles separating first from eighth. Skipper Torben Grael and the International crew aboard Ericsson 4 and Anders Lewander’s Nordic crew aboard Ericsson 3 were both 1 mile behind fleet leader Puma.
“This is going to be very different from the previous two legs, because of the light winds,” said Ericsson 4′s Grael. “Now we are more comfortable with these conditions than we used to be.”
Leg 3 of the race totals 1,950 nautical miles and will take the fleet to Singapore. Along the way the sailors traverse the Bay of Bengal towards a scoring gate between Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands. After clearing the scoring gate they’ll make their way down the Strait of Malacca towards the finish off the island nation at the bottom of the Malay Peninsula.
Tens of thousands of residents of Cochin turned out to see the boats off from the race village. The locals have been intrigued by the race fleet during its 12-day layover, and Ericsson 3 displayed a banner thanking them in their native tongue. The fleet performed a parade of sail around the harbor before heading offshore for the start.
The Leg 3 start occurred in conditions dramatically different from the first two starts. While the sendoffs in Alicante, Spain, and Cape Town, South Africa, were marked with strong winds and lumpy seas, today’s start was held in a gentle west/northwesterly breeze between 8 and 11 knots and flat water.
Ericsson 4 took the start near the committee boat end, with Ericsson 3 a bit to leeward. The boats were flying their masthead asymmetric gennakers and making between 10 and 12 knots boatspeed.
“It should be another interesting leg,” said Jules Salter, Ericsson 4 navigator. “From looking at the stats, it’s a very light air leg. The first problem will be getting away from the India coastline. We’ll likely have 130 miles of light-air coastal sailing. We’ll be close in battling fishing boats and nets. But this time the boats will be together, so it’ll be a tiring first day and a half, two days of sailing.”
VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEG 3 LEADERBOARD
(Dec. 13, 2008, 1257 GMT)
1. Puma, 1,862 nautical miles to finish
1. Kosatka, same
3. Ericsson 4, 1 NM to leaders
3. Ericsson 3, same
3. Telefónica Black, same
3. Telefónica Blue, same
7. Delta Lloyd, 2 NM to leaders
8. Green Dragon, 3 NM to leaders
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