SINGAPORE – Ericsson Racing Team’s two yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race placed third and fourth on Leg 3 to Singapore, finishing within seconds of each other.
Swedish skipper Anders Lewander guided Ericsson 3 to another third-place finish, while Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael of Brazil, placed fourth.
Ericsson 3 finished at 1509:48 GMT and completed the leg in 9 days, 5 hours, 9 minutes and 48 seconds. Ericsson 4 crossed the finish 40 seconds later in one of the closest finishes in the 35-year history of the Volvo race.
The International crew aboard Ericsson 4 retains the overall race lead with the high score of 35 points. The Nordic crew on Ericsson 3 is in fourth place with 23.5 points, just 4 points out of third place.
“I feel bad for our teammates on Ericsson 4, they sailed very well and were dominating,” said Lewander, the 45-year-old skipper from Stockholm. “But it’s a good feeling to turn around after crossing the finish line and see them behind us.
“This was a very tough leg,” Lewander continued. “The Malacca Strait was challenging with night sailing up the shoreline.then the line-up with the four of us in very light conditions. It was a bit of a lottery situation. But it was important to keep in mind the big picture and not necessarily look just at the short term.”
The closing stages of the 1,950-nautical mile leg that began nine days ago in Cochin, India, were frustrating for Ericsson 4, which won the first two legs of the race. Grael and crew put forth a strong effort to clear the scoring gate in first place last Friday, and held a 25-mile lead as the fleet sailed down the Malacca Strait.
Ericsson 4 was overtaken Saturday night when light winds prevented them from getting inshore to cover the chasing pack that included Ericsson 3, Telefonica Blue and Puma. The last 24 hours of the leg saw the top four sailing within meters of each other, but Ericsson 4 couldn’t get back on top.
“We had a cloud and got parked a little way from shore,” said Grael, 48, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “The tide was strong and the wind light. We just couldn’t get to the shore, although we were closer than the others.
“The result is not what we were wishing for, but it’s not bad,” said Grael. “Of course it’s not ideal, but we had two fantastic legs before and a good leg after the gate. We had our opportunities in the last half of the leg but didn’t capitalize on them. It’s part of the game.”
Ericsson 3 cleared the scoring gate in third place, and now has its third consecutive third-place finish in the race. The Nordic crew held the lead this morning approaching the finish, but couldn’t convert the win despite strong feelings onboard.
“We really felt we could win this leg,” said Lewander. “It feels so good with the team we have. It’s a proud bunch of Nordic sailors that are starting to get to know one another, to get to know the boat and what it takes to make it go fast. It’s a growing experience, and we’re growing in confidence. We’re humble and happy with this result.”
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