As Ericsson 4 takes the lead, Ericsson 3 records fastest time in 'Rotterdam Gate Race'

There is a lot to be happy about in the Ericsson camp today. Ericsson 4 got the better side of a big wind shift, which propelled her up the order to take over first position in leg eight of the Volvo Ocean Race, while Ericsson 3 recorded the fastest time in the ‘Rotterdam Gate Race’.

Ericsson 4 took the lead at 07:00 GMT yesterday morning and arrived at a gate set off Rotterdam in first place. After avoiding the Rotterdam exclusion zone, put in place to keep the fleet clear of shipping, the teams sailed a short course of 1.7 nm to a turning mark set less than half a mile off the beach. After rounding a Volvo buoy, they then set off on another 1.7nm reach before rounding a second mark and heading back out to sea.

Times were taken for each yacht sailing the course, which was then opened to non-competing boats to try to beat the times set by the Volvo fleet. Ericsson 3 recorded the fastest time (12 minutes 40 seconds) and although no points were scored, a much-needed boost to morale was the reward for this team who has been having a thoroughly miserable time on this leg. However, for the crew of the fastest ‘all-comer’, a trip St Petersburg for the race finish is on offer.

“It must have been quite a spectacle for the spectator boats on the water, and considering it was early on a Tuesday morning it was quite a surprise to see so many people around,” said Ericsson 4’s MCM, Guy Salter.

Although claiming the fastest lap time, the morale onboard Ericsson 3 has been suffering and the boat is in last place, 37 nm behind the leaders.

“There is everything but happy days on Ericsson 3 for the moment,” wrote Gustav Morin yesterday. “We have lost miles and miles to the others and we now 37 miles behind our sistership and 27 miles behind Telefónica Blue, which is the closest boat,” he said.

It was much the same for sixth-placed Telefónica Blue yesterday, when, according to Gabri Olivo MCM, it all went wrong, hour after hour. “Perhaps someone didn’t go to church last Sunday,” he said.

“We’re feeling like we’ve been punched right in the face by Mike Tyson,” Gabri added. “As you can imagine, the darkness came onboard. It’s the first time that we’re last without any damage or excuses to blame it on, and, believe me, it is not a nice feeling. You can see on everyone’s faces how bad the mood is.”

Now, the fleet continues north at break-neck speed, mostly in sight each other as a 25-30 knot westerly gale pushes them quickly towards Texel, an island off Northern Holland, where the fleet will make their turn towards Scandinavia. Computer routing software is predicting a finish in Marstrand late tonight or Thursday.

Leg 8 Positions – Tuesday, 13:00 GMT

1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 332 nm
2. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) 1
3. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) 6
4. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) 8
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) 9
6. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 10
7. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) 37

Rotterdam Gate Race

1. Ericsson 3: in 12 mins 40 secs
2. PUMA: in 14 mins 03 secs
3. Telefónica Black: in 14 mins 55 secs
4. Telefónica Blue: in 14 mins 56 secs
5. Green Dragon: in 14 mins 58 secs
6. Delta Lloyd: in 15 mins 03 secs
7. Ericsson 4: in 15 mins 11 secs

Dover Strait Exit Order, 8 June 2009, (as the fleet crossed the latitude of Broadstairs, Kent)

1. Green Dragon
2. Telefónica Black
3. PUMA 00
4. Delta Lloyd
5. Ericsson 3
6. Telefónica Blue
7. Ericsson 4

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