Torben Grael/BRA and his crew onboard Ericsson 4 is on the home strait with just 237 nm to go to the finish of leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race in Cape Town. The boat went into StealthPlay last night at 19:00 GMT, emerging still in the north, where although the breeze is lighter, there are less miles to sail to the finish.
Weather-routeing software is predicting an arrival time of just after 08:00 GMT tomorrow morning, with second placed PUMA at approximately 16:30 GMT, although times are likely to slip back as the wind softens on the approach to the finish line.
PUMA (Ken Read/USA) stayed in the north with Ericsson 4, but at 13:00 GMT today, was 110 nm behind her and sailing considerably slower. The rest of the fleet opted for the cold, southerly option, 500 miles south, which meant more miles to sail, but potentially the promise of more wind.
All the southerly boats, except Ericsson 3 (Anders Lewander/SWE) gybed north this morning and are heading straight for the barn door. Ericsson will cross ahead of the Dragons on port gybe, and at 13:00 GMT today, she went into Stealth mode.
Two blown-out spinnakers have cost Ian Walker’s Green Dragon valuable miles and allowed Anders Lewander and his Nordic crew to gain advantage.
Flying their masthead spinnaker at night, in over 25 knots of wind and quite big waves, the Green Dragon crew was trying to make up lost miles caused by keel damage earlier in the week.
A line squall hit the boat and the rapidly rising wind led to a sequence of consequences that meant the spinnaker was in shreds.
By 06:00 this morning, the newly repaired sail was rehoisted. 'As good as new (well sort of),' wrote Ian Walker today. In the strong wind, his crew have been sailing a ‘double standby’ watch, which means that each crewmember only has two hours to sleep in his bunk out of every eight, which is not enough according to Walker. 'It does mean that when it is rough, we have seven people in kit, ready to be on deck at a moment’s notice. We have needed them on several occasions,' he said.
The Dragons were not the only ones to suffer overnight. 'Last night, just after coming from watch, disaster struck,' wrote Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking/NED. 'I was in the galley, preparing some coffee, when, all of a sudden, I felt the boat making a bad move, and quickly, it flipped on its side. We had to have all hands on deck to drop the spinnaker, which had fallen in the water but , miraculously, had stayed in one piece. Quickly the chaos was under control, and we hoisted another spinnaker, but we knew the next position report would mean a loss, but so be it,' he said.
Onboard Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT), the crew has been hampered by a broken aerial. This means that they have been unable to download the all- important weather information needed for navigation. For the last 48 hours, they have had no information to rely on, although navigator, Wouter Verbraak is confident he will have it fixed soon.
Further back, the crew of Delta Lloyd (Ger’ O’Rourke/IRL) face a big job list when they arrive in Cape Town, which will need shift work and the crew jumping back into the jobs list according to skipper Ger O’Rourke. 'With the exception of one and a quarter days off, it will be back to work to prepare for the next leg,' he said.
Bringing up the rear is Telefonica Black (Fernando Echavarri/ESP), which went to 36 degrees south before gybing north. 'Considering the problems we have had, we keep in high spirits onboard and there is always a smile, even when talking about controlling the food in case we need more than predicted,' says Mikel Pasabant from onboard. Volvo Ocean Race Positions - Leg One Saturday Day 22: 1300 GMT
1 Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 237nm
2 PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +110
3 Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders Lewander/SWE) +345
4 Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +372
5 Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +478
6 Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) +558
7 Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O’Rourke/IRL) +605
8 Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +673