Ericsson Racing Team holds first and second on the water as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet hones in on the Leg 5 finish in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
At today’s 1317 GMT position report, Magnus Olsson’s Nordic crew aboard Ericsson 3 led Torben Grael’s International crew aboard Ericsson 4 by 87 nautical miles, and had 1,207 miles to the finish of this epic leg that began Feb. 14 in Qingdao, China.
Ericsson 3 was about 600 miles southeast of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and eyeing a finish on Tuesday evening. Ericsson 4 was predicted to finish early Wednesday morning.
“At present we are running on port in a very sloppy and mixed up seaway in 14 knots of wind, and we are anticipating a jibe onto starboard with the weather predicting and relatively fast starboard tack into Rio,” said Ericsson 4 media crewman Guy Salter.
Ericsson 3 has padded its lead slightly in the past 24 hours. Yesterday it stood at 50 miles. Ericsson Racing Team meteorologist Chris Bedford says that’s likely because Ericsson 4 has been slowed a bit more by a high-pressure zone that’s bubbling off the Argentinean coast.
Bedford also says that the course for Ericsson 3 looks uncomplicated, except for a ridge of high pressure that could slow the pace on Sunday.
“The ridge marks the change from mid-latitude to sub-tropical weather and from westerly winds to easterly winds. They’ll cross that later tomorrow or early Sunday,” said Bedford. “The ridge has the potential to be large. It looks narrower on this morning’s forecast than yesterday’s, but still has the potential for a 6- to 12-hour slow period.”
When the Volvo Ocean Race schedule was released it listed today as the estimated arrival in Rio. Instead, on Day 35 of the 12,300-nautical mile leg, both crews are reporting a high level of exhaustion and the boats are showing the strains of having sailed the Pacific Ocean, Southern Ocean and now Atlantic Ocean.
Ericsson 4 in the past week has ripped the steering sheaves off the hull and also had a leak in the keel hydraulics manifold. Ericsson 3 has been at sea longer, owing to it completing Leg 4 before beginning Leg 5, and is showing strain.
“The boat is really bruised and battered after this wrecker of a leg,” said Gustav Morin, Ericsson 3 media crewman. “The boats are not the only part being exhausted. The crew is, if possible, in even bigger need of some rest. I believe all the crews are crying for some time to relax. Not the least us on Ericsson 3 who haven’t had any time of since Singapore.”
VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEG 5 LEADERBOARD
(Mar. 20, 2009, 1317 GMT)
1. Ericsson 3, 1,207 nautical miles to finish
2. Ericsson 4, +87 NM
3. Puma, +193 NM
4. Green Dragon, +272 NM
5. Telefónica Blue, +738 NM
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