Ericsson Racing Team has said goodbye to its homeport of Stockholm and begun the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-’09.
Similar to the Stockholm In-Port Race last weekend, a large spectator fleet was on hand for the start of Leg 10 off Sandhamn. A 10- to 12-knot wind blew from the northeast. With flat water and glorious sunshine, the Volvo Open 70s completed a short lap in little time before setting off across the northern Baltic Sea.
The fleet will also cross the Gulf of Finland before arriving in St. Petersburg, Russia, sometime on Saturday morning. The leg is expected to last approximately 36 hours as the fleet sails into lighter winds towards the historical Russian city.
The leg looks to be fairly straightforward as the wind is expected to hold from the northeast. But if it dies near the finish, that could open some tactical opportunities.
“There are some general concepts in the forecast to pay attention to, but it’s hard to know exactly what to expect,” said Ericsson 3 navigator Aksel Magdahl. “Strategy-wise, we’ll just try to hang in there and wait for a good opportunity. It’ll pay to stay in contact rather than take a chance early because there’ll probably be some opportunities later.”
The team’s stay in Sweden’s capital city was both triumphant and busy. The International crew aboard Ericsson 4, led by Brazilian skipper Torben Grael, clinched the top spot when it finished third on Leg 9 into Stockholm. Magnus Olsson’s popular Nordic crew on Ericsson 3 cemented fourth place overall during the in-port race and were in demand by both media and the public throughout the whole stopover.
With the race mathematically in the bag, the International crew at one point joked about taking a barbeque and a stereo for the approximately 400-nautical mile leg. That plan never materialized, as the crew would like to add a final-leg victory to the five already in hand.
“It’s a short leg and the end beckons. We’ll be trying our hardest to win because don’t want to be beaten,” said Ericsson 4 navigator Jules Salter. “It’ll be nice sailing. The sun’s going to be out the whole leg. There’ll be plenty of ships to look at.”
VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEADERBOARD
(Through Stockholm In-Port Race)
1. Ericsson 4, 110.5 points
2. Puma, 98.5
3. Telefónica Blue, 92
4. Ericsson 3, 73.5
5. Green Dragon, 64
6. Telefónica Black, 50
7. Delta Lloyd, 39.5
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