Paul Campbell-James and Muscat Crew Wins Extreme 40 Cowes (Photo by Mark LLoyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events)

Paul Campbell-James and The Wave, Muscat Crew Wins Extreme 40 Cowes (Photo by Mark LLoyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events)

Paul Campbell-James on The Wave, Muscat has won the UK Round of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week – the first ever regatta win for the youngest skipper on the circuit – claiming an OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean watch as part of the prize as top Skipper for the UK round.  Thirty-six races over six days in front of 60,000+ spectators – the UK round of the five-stop circuit has delivered everything that the Extreme Sailing Series is about. Spectacular, adrenalin-pumping action on the water, enthralling the thousands of spectators who packed into the Extreme Race Village at Egypt Point and along The Esplanade.

The conditions throughout the event have demanded the utmost focus and physical effort from the nine competing teams and today was no exception with 20-25 knots of south-westerly breeze across the short race course and a choppy sea state.  Classic conditions for a potential pitch-pole or capsize and the crews knew it, racing with one reef in the mainsail and an extra fifth pro crew to add a bit of extra weight. The top mark proved a dangerous turning mark as they hoisted their giant gennakers to head downwind at full pelt – the crews ready in a second to ease the sails if the bows dug into the waves too deep.

Going into the fifth and final double points race of the day, Paul Campbell-James and his crew had almost done enough to keep the lead from Britain’s Mike Golding, but they had to finish the race – zero points and Ecover would claim the top spot. As it was the team did enough, scoring a 4th in the final race, to win the UK round of the Extreme Sailing Series on 249 points: “We knew if we capsized it would be the end of the regatta so pretty pleased to get through it,” said a relieved Campbell-James on the podium. 

Extreme 40 Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Weyth/ OC Events)

Extreme 40 Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Weyth/ OC Events)

But the Ecover team is ecstatic with their second overall place, their best result to date and appreciated the home crowd support: “It’s been great to have the support from the shore – you can even hear the yells and shouts from on board the boat,” said Golding. Tornado Olympic sailors Leigh McMillan and Will Howden have bought a new performance level to Mike’s team, who stepped back to allow the McMillan take the helm. It was a shrewd move and Golding’s team are really starting to gel, and will certainly be a force to contend with in the future.  Yann Guichard’s men on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, winners at the first round in France, always excel in light airs but struggle at times in heavy conditions. A final win in the last race would have lifted their spirits to secure third overall on the podium.

A real battle developed mid-leaderboard between Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah, Red Bull Extreme Sailing and Groupama 40. Only a handful of points separated these three going into the final race. Peyron secured fourth overall, although he never really got into his stride here, and Roman Hagara on Red Bull Extreme Sailing claimed 5th and although lacked consistency they, nonetheless, scored six bullets, ahead of the fastest man round the planet Franck Cammas on Groupama 40.  Groupama 40 provided the most dramatic moment of the UK round on the second day when the 40-foot catamaran careered towards the concrete sea wall without steerage. Franck and the crew had no option but to leap to safety.

Team GAC Pindar, who had the satisfaction of claiming some race wins here, proving that when they get it right they are competitive, finished in 7th place ahead of Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who is competing in the UK round as a one-off experience (for now!).  For the co-creator of the Extreme 40 class, Mitch Booth and the Team Ocean Racing Club, it proved to be a disastrous regatta, breaking their front beam ahead of the penultimate day and then having to sit and watch the other eight boats have some of the best racing this circuit has ever seen.

The Wave, Muscat’s victory here means they now share the top spot on the overall Series leaderboard with 14 points apiece.  Two points behind Oman Sail Masirah on 12 points.

Next stop for the Extreme Sailing Series is Kiel in Germany between 26-29 August.

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

There was plenty of dramatic action on day two of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week today. With 18-20 knots of breeze, gusting over 20 at times, the nine teams were racing right on the edge, demanding 100% concentration and a constant rush of adrenalin for both the sailors and the spectators from the near capsizes, near misses and some not so near misses…
 
In race 11 (the fourth inshore race of today), approaching the windward mark Yann Guichard’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild hit Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 wiping out both rudders, leaving Groupama with no steerage whatsoever. Groupama 40 were heading straight for the shore at speed and for safety the crew leapt into the water to avoid the impact of hitting the sea wall – deciding they would prefer getting wet than being thrown forward on the boat and potentially injuring themselves. Groupama 40 has sustained both rudder and daggerboard damage and it will be a long night for the shore team to get them back racing tomorrow. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has lodged a protest which the jury will hear and award redress if relevant.

 

 
Paul Campbell-James, the youngest skipper on the circuit at just 28, ensured The Wave, Muscat finished inside the top four in today’s races including the morning offshore race and the five inshore races this afternoon held off Egypt Point. Two wins this afternoon, two seconds and two third places put them top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard on 85 points: “We got good starts which is a big part of today and we were pushing really hard downwind when we needed to. Sometimes we were so close to capsizing but you have to push it hard at times and back off at others.”

Yesterday, British skipper Mike Golding said he didn’t mind if they didn’t score any ‘bullets’ today, stating finishing inside the top four was more important. But his helm Leigh McMillan and the crew had other ideas – posting a win in the offshore race in the morning, then two further bullets in the penultimate and ultimate race of the day to finish in second place with 80 points. This kept the home crowd, who packed into the Extreme Bar and along the shoreline, happy as they cheered Golding’s crew all the way.

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth /  OC Events)

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events)

All the skippers talk about the importance of consistency but yesterday’s leader Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah found his top form elusive today, only posting a third place in the second race this afternoon which leaves Peyron’s team in third place overall with 74 points – 7 points ahead of Guichard’s team in 4th.

Double Olympic Gold Medalist Roman Hagara had another day of mixed fortunes – one race win and a second place in the penultimate race, keeps them in contention in the middle of the leaderboard in 6th place, five points behind Mitch Booth’s The Ocean Racing Club who did well in this morning’s offshore finishing in second. Another frustrating day for Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who had rudder problems before the start of the first race then had to drop the mainsail between races to sort out another problem. The team unpracticed in the art of Extreme 40 racing, put a reef in early and raced cautiously throughout the afternoon, although the 1989 Formula 40 World Champion demonstrated why he clinched that title with a couple of great starts.

Pindar Open 60 Kingdom of Bahrain (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Pindar Open 60 Kingdom of Bahrain (Photo by Lloyd Images)

On 25 November, Sail Bahrain’s Kingdom of Bahrain Volvo 60 racing yacht was stopped by Iranian navy vessels, as it was making its way from Bahrain to the start of the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race. The boat may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters.

The five crew members, all British nationals, are still in Iran. All are understood to be safe and well and their families have been informed.  

British media identified the five as Oliver Smith, Sam Usher, of Scarborough, North Yorkshire; Luke Porter, of Weston-super-Mare; Oliver Young, of from Saltash, near Plymouth; and David Bloomer, from Malahide, county Dublin. Bloomer, a Bahrain-based radio presenter who was due to air broadcasts about the race, was travelling with a British passport but is believed to have dual British-Irish citizenship.

The families of several of the sailors said they had been able to speak to them by phone since their detention. Charles Porter, father of Luke Porter, said he had talked to his son on Monday and “he was as good as can be expected.”

“He is a very strong character, very resilient. He’s a professional sailor, very used to dealing with adversity.”

Puma Beck From Above (Photo By Rick Deppe / PUMA Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race

Puma Deck From Above (Photo By Rick Deppe / PUMA Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race

Kenny Read must smell the Chowder because the IL Mostro has made gains on Telefonica Blue and moved back into second in the run for Boston.

Today in his email report he sums up the feelings onboard PUMA “Approaching a 500 mile day on the fine yacht, gains on all the last position reports – the boat is going well and the crew is happy.  What’s there not to like!  Well, I will tell you one thing. 

The race is essentially starting over again and the two Ericsson boats are right next to us – essentially tied with us in distance to the finish.  We can’t ever shake these boats.  Magnus Olsson said at the pre-leg press conference that he was going to shadow us because he thought we knew how to get to Boston fastest.  Well I’m not so sure if that is true because the Telefónica Blue guys seem to be doing a pretty good job thus far, but I didn’t think he meant his comment so literally.

We’re kind of tired of looking at a mirror image of Ericsson boats.  It feels like we are getting teamed up on sometimes.  Between you and me, we gauge if they are close or not by the fact we can see the orange head on their mainsails.  We call it their pregnancy test.  You know, you wait for the stick or whatever it is to turn the special colour…something like that…well, their colour turned orange.  Orange pregnancy lines mean they are positively close.  No visual on the orange mainsail head means negative, they aren’t that close. There have been a lot of positive tests for far this race.

The fire hose is still on full force on deck.  I can say that this is some of the easiest 500 miles per day sailing that I have ever done.  Warm, not sweltering, warm water, beautiful 20 knot trade winds, open ocean planing across the waves.  Just fast, fun sailing that might be some of the more pleasurable miles ticked off this entire race.  It has been a long time coming waiting for days like this.  Hopefully it lasts for a bit longer. “

rough-seas-on-puma-by-rick-deppe
Telefónica Blue made the gate at Fernando de Noronha first and claimed the maximum of four points as she led the seven-strong Volvo fleet.

It is the first time that Telefónica Blue has been in pole position at a gate, and it wasn’t an easy win.  Telefónica Blue claimed the maximum of four points as she led the seven-strong Volvo fleet through the gate at Fernando de Noronha.  Heavy squalls and rain reduced the visibility and, 10 miles before the gate, the breeze dropped from 23 knots to three knots, which sent the heart rates of the crew racing.

Telefónica Blue has led the fleet from the start and skipper Bouwe Bekking is very pleased with the performance of the boat and crew.  Reflecting on the first part of the course, he said, “We can’t see where we made any mistakes, plus, of course, the boat has done a good job for us.” 

Three hours later, Ericsson 4 took second place.

It was an intense time for the Delta Lloyd crew as they fought off advances from Telefónica Black and then PUMA at the last minute for third place. 

“Our main battle has been with Telefónica Black, but, at the last moment PUMA has gone around the outside of a big light patch under a squall and has made huge gains.  Now the wind has gone left too much for us and PUMA is closing fast.  It is not sure whether we will cross her,” wrote Delta Lloyd’s navigator Wouter Verbraak. 

Ericsson 4 had passed Delta Lloyd earlier in the morning and had been steadily sailing away, leaving Telefónica Black and PUMA as the main threats.  “Today we are really seeing the difference in boat speed between our first generation boat and her younger sisters,” wrote Verbraak, adding, “It’s no problem, it just means we will have to work harder and smarter.”

Next through was Ericsson 3, and, following her in seventh place was Green Dragon. 

“For six of us onboard who have sailed every leg and never sailed the race before, this means we have completed our first circumnavigation of the world,” wrote Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker, who says that despite being last at the gate, spirits onboard are good. 

The next challenges for the fleet will be the initiation of those have not before crossed the Equator, followed by what the meteorologist say will be a short crossing of the Doldrums, maybe just 24 hours,  and out into the northeast trade winds.

Although, technically, the fleet is already in the Doldrums, with towering clouds and rainsqualls, the wind is still good.  Walker says the sailing is fantastic, especially at night with lots of medium air reaching. 

Verbraak agrees:  Everybody is soaking wet as we are grinding sails up, unfurling and furling sails, dropping jibs and hoisting them again 30 minutes later.  It is complete madness really, but also some of the very best sailing you can do.”

At 1300 GMT today, Telefónica Blue had pulled out a substantial lead of 63 nm and the next five boats were all within seven miles of each other.  Green Dragon was a further 11 miles back.  Telefónica Blue has managed to average 15.8 knots for the past three hours, but this speed is bound to drop once the full force of the Doldrums is felt.  She also claims the highest 24-hour run of 329 nm.

The unpredictability of the wind has resulted in movement on the leg leaderboard today.  PUMA is out to the east and match racing with Delta Lloyd for second place, while Ericsson 4 has moved west and dropped to fourth.  In the centre lane are Ericsson 3 and Telefónica Black just a mile apart and Green Dragon on her own, slightly further east. 

Scoring Gate Results Fernando de Noronha
1. Telefónica Blue   19:58:56 GMT 16.04.09  4    Points
2. Ericsson 4    22:55:36 GMT 16.04.09  3.5 Points
3. Delta Lloyd    23:28:32 GMT 16.04.09  3    Points
4. Puma     23:29:31 GMT 16.04.09 2.5  Points
5. Telefónica Black  23:42:20 GMT 16.04.09 2     Points
6. Ericsson 3    00:14:28 GMT 17.04.09 1.5  Points
7. Green Dragon  01:27:26 GMT 17.04.09 1     Point

Leg Six Day 7: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
1. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) DTF 3,317nm
2. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +63
3. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) +63
4. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +65
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) +69
6. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +70
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +81
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Green Dragon Leading In Leg 6 (Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Green Dragon Leading In Leg 6 (Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

The excesses of the Rio stopover are forgotten as the crews slip back into the old routine of watch systems and freeze-dried food. And the 2-4 knots and lumpy swell which blighted their departure have given way to the south-east trades.

Next target is the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha 1,000 nautical miles away. The tempo is rising.

Ericsson 4’s Media Crew Member, Guy Salter, is relishing the lift in the pace of life on board. “Its nice to have the wind again as the inside of the boat is stacked nicely as is the windward rail,” he wrote.

“We are ploughing along now at what seems to be break neck speeds (or at least after the first 28 hours). Fourteen knots seems like potential passing out/nose bleed speed compared to the first few days.

“Torben (Grael) commented yesterday evening that he had once sailed the 72 miles from Cabo Frio to Rio in a Star in a lot less time than it had taken us – his day-boat madness had only taken 12 hours and all that the rest of us could think of is why didn’t he just put the boat on its trailer and drive it back.

“Meanwhile, we are starting to settle back into the routines onboard. To be honest, the boat routine is normal, on land is the oddity as our time ashore in the last few months has been comfortably in the minority.”

By the 16:00 GMT Position Report, the fleet was hunting in packs as shown on the Race Viewer.  Offshore, the hares are Telefonica Blue and a rejuvenated Delta Lloyd (+19 Distance To Leader).

 

Running with the hounds inshore are third-placed Ericsson 4 (+24), sister ship Ericsson 3 (+26) fourth, PUMA (+27), Telefonica Black (+29) fifth and sixth respectively. Furthest east is Green Dragon (+38) bringing up the rear.

On Telefonica Blue, they are feeling groovy, or at least trying to, says Simon Fisher. “Although the wind has filled in somewhat and we are no longer drifting around it is shifty and gusty meaning that we have to work hard to keep the boat in the groove,” he said.

“Tactically things are working out OK. The pack behind have been playing a little cat and mouse with each other forcing them to go lower and faster, which for now has played into our hands as we remain happy with our windward position on the fleet.

“It is now a case of making subtle changes to our course to defend our position and hopefully maximize the opportunities to extend when they present themselves.”

Navigator-for-hire Wouter Verbraak, who started out on Team Russia, had a loan spell on Green Dragon as is now back aboard Delta Lloyd’s first generation Volvo Open 70, explained the team’s strategy thus … “Before the leg start we have divided the leg up into different races. Each race has it’s own goal and strategy, and gives us something to focus on,” he said.

“The first race from Rio to Cabo Frio on the SE tip of Brazil is now firmly behind us, and it is with a sigh of relieve that we are starting race two. Speed, speed, speed is our goal to the race two finish line at the first waypoint (Fernando).

“No big moves to be made, just focus on the boat speed. With the breeze varying between 12 and 16 knots and oscillating in direction as well, the grinding of the mainsheet is a constant. Even though we are not making top speeds, the progress towards the mark is good as we only need to get a bit more offshore.

“At the same time we all realize that there is no rest for the wicked as the more powerful new generation boats will soon be breathing down our neck.”

Ken Read – skipper on PUMA Ocean Racing  had this to say today of life onboard Il Mostro  “The challenges of ocean sailing change every day.  Nearly always an interesting new twist comes to play.  The first couple of days of this journey have been no different.

First of all, we are going home.  Back to Boston where Salma Hayek christened il mostro on a cold and blustery May night.  Back to where the North American Headquarters for PUMA lies, right on the harbour front.  Back to where I went to University – Boston University (who just won the National Championship in ice hockey I might add).  A city which has helped mould my life, and I especially can’t wait to get back there.

But the journey doesn’t happen without its potholes, and I thought we were going to lose Sid for a while yesterday morning.  Sidney Gavignet is a very passionate Frenchman who has a love for the sea and a love for competition.  But like most of us he has a few superstitions and there is one in particular that is shared by nearly all of his French sailing counterparts.  

They have a huge fear of little fuzzy hopping animals with long ears (I am not even allowed to say the name of this animal – that is how deep rooted the superstition is.)

As legend has it, the furry animals with long ears used to be taken aboard the old sailing ships alive and eaten in the old days, long before refrigeration or freeze-dried food.  Live animals were carried then to eaten by the crew.  The furry little animals with long ears supposedly had a different plan though.  They would eat through the wooden hulls and sink the ships before they made it to the cooker, or made the boat made it to port. Since then the French have forbidden any sort of mention or likeness of the big-eared ship sinkers to be on any boat.

So, with the best of intentions, an unnamed fan made it onboard and put a chocolate Easter fuzzy animal with long ears in each of our storage pouches as a surprise – again with the best of intentions, of course.  Sid didn’t see the humour.  We believe he threw his overboard and asked if I would make sure that all were either eaten or immediately gotten rid of as soon as possible.

And sure enough we had a really bad day yesterday on the water.  From the leg start out of Rio, we saw the three boats that were the farthest behind sail around us all, Telefónica Blue and Green Dragon along the shore and Delta Lloyd offshore.  The pack of Telefónica Black, the two Ericsson’s and us stuck in the windless middle trying desperately to get to an edge.  

Now we are in a drag race to Fernando and the all-important scoring gate.  We are minus all fuzzy and long eared chocolate Easter treats and we appear to be doing better because of it.  We aren’t talking about that superstition any more – after this note of course, because yesterday it was pretty valid in my books.  We checked for holes and are good on that front. Now to make up for lost time and distance. “

Telefonica Black Leg 6 Start (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Telefonica Black Leg 6 Start (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Bowman Michael Pammenter has injured his foot, and was taken back to the Marina da Gloria by a support boat. Under the race rules, the team cannot replace him during this leg. Upon arrival at the marina, Pammenter was transferred to hospital to have his leg and foot examined.

 

“I had the jib sheet wrapped around my foot when we went into a tack and I got flipped into the rig,” he said, describing how it occured. “I got my foot stuck between the mast and the jib sheet basically. It’s really painful but I’ve had some painkillers so it’s calmed down a lot, but there’s a lot of swelling so we thought it would be safer if I got off the boat and got it checked out properly. Hopefully I’ll be back for the next leg.

“Originally I was going to try and carry on, do as little as possible, but the realisation came that if I want it to heal properly I have to get off and get it done properly. There is minimal chance that I have broken anything, but just be safe.

“I am really upset,” he continued. “I just feel pretty stupid to be honest. We are all really excited to leave and then I do something like this. But it happens.”

Volvo Fleet At Leg 6 Start (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Fleet At Leg 6 Start (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Rio Leg 6 Start Volvo Fleet (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race))

Rio Leg 6 Start Volvo Fleet (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race))

Fleet At Start Of Leg 6 Rio (Photo By Sally Collison / Volvo Ocean Race)

Fleet At Start Of Leg 6 Rio (Photo By Sally Collison / Volvo Ocean Race)

Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Ericsson 3, skippered by Magnus Olsson (SWE) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston

Ericsson 3, skippered by Magnus Olsson (SWE) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston

Green Dragon Leg 6 Start (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Green Dragon Leg 6 Start (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Ericsson 4 At Leg 6 Start (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Ericsson 4 At Leg 6 Start (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Green Dragon, skippered by Ian Walker (GBR) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston

Green Dragon, skippered by Ian Walker (GBR) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston

Delta Lloyd, skippered by Roberto Bermudez (ESP) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Delta Lloyd, skippered by Roberto Bermudez (ESP) at the start of leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Rio de Janeiro to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

As the fleet leave Rio behind and head out from Guanabara Bay, Telefonica Black leads Ericsson 4 and PUMA offshore. Telefonica Blue, Green Dragon, Ericsson 3 and Delta Lloyd trailed the leaders. Hundreds of spectator boats crowded the fleet as they did a lap of racing before heading out to sea in a 5-10 knot sea breeze. The wind was very streaky across the bay, making for plenty of lead changes early in the race

Start of Leg 6 Rio to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Start of Leg 6 Rio to Boston (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

View of Racers From Up The Mast (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

View of Racers From Up The Mast (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

TERRIFIC PERFORMANCE FOR TELEFÓNICA BLACK AT VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEG SIX START

After a short stopover of just two weeks in Rio de Janeiro, less for some teams, it was back out on the race track again today at the start of the 4,900 nautical mile leg six to Boston, USA, another new port introduced for this, the 10th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

In 30 degrees of heat, a marching band playing bagpipes heralded the departure of the seven teams who were accompanied by Samba dancers as they made their way down the dock and onboard their race boats which will be their home for another two weeks.

A light southwesterly sea breeze of 5 – 10 knots allowed the fleet to make a clean start on time in the Guanabara Bay at 1500 local. PUMA (Ken Read/USA) and Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) chose the committee boat end of the line, with Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) at the pin end.

Ericsson 4 made a very late and slow start but skipper Torben Grael was determined to ‘own’ the right hand side of the course, which was where there was more breeze and less current. Practically rock-hopping so close in to the shore they went, and, at one point heading towards a rather alarmed spectator fleet, Torben Grael displayed his expert local knowledge, and Ericsson 4 started to make steady gains up through the fleet.

Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) led the fleet to the first mark, set off the famous Copacabana beach and continued to hold that position to lead the fleet past the famous Sugar Loaf mountain and out into open waters. PUMA rounded the mark in second place, but, under huge pressure from Ericsson 4, made a mistake and Torben Grael quickly swiped back second place. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) was fourth followed by Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE), Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd.

Heading back in a loop towards the start line, Telefónica Black continued to sail impressively and opened up a big lead on the rest of the fleet.

At the second mark Ericsson 3 came from nowhere to arrive at almost the same time as Ericsson 4, looking to take an easy second place until the crew had a problem and could not drop their spinnaker, requiring one member of the crew to climb the mast to free the sail. Almost all the fleet passed them, leaving them only ahead of Delta Lloyd.

On the second upwind leg, Torben Grael repeated his first leg tactics and once again headed towards the Rio shore.

Fernando Echávarri made some good decisions early on in today’s race which enabled Telefónica Black to get clear air and build on a substantial lead. As the fleet headed out to sea, Fernando Echávarri’s Telefónica Black was the clear leader. Ericsson 4 was safely in second place from PUMA in third who, in turn was just ahead of Telefónica Blue, fourth, and Green Dragon fifth. Ericsson 3 was not far behind, but Delta Lloyd was trailing.

 

Volvo Ocean Racers Start Leg 6 (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Ocean Racers Start Leg 6 (Photo By Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Boats At Dock In Rio (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Boats At Dock In Rio (Photo By Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Overall Leaderboard
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 66 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 56.5 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 54.5 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 44.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 41 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 23 points
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 15 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points