Ericsson 4 sail 589 miles in 24 hours

At 03:55 GMT, Ericsson 4 (pictured) had sailed 565 miles over the past day to break the record. And in the hours since, Grael and his crew have been adding to the total. At 07:10 GMT, the number was up to 585. By 07:55 it had grown to 589.

Subject to ratification, Torben Grael and his men on Ericsson 4 have smashed the 24-hour record – set in the last race by ABN AMRO 2. At present, no other boats in the fleet have surpassed the old record.

The run has vaulted Ericsson 4 to the head of the pack with a lead of 27 miles over PUMA on the 07:00 GMT position report. What has been noticeable this morning is not just that the fleet is spreading out again in terms of distance to finish, but the boats immediately behind Ericsson 4 – PUMA and Green Dragon – are falling in line, sailing in the track of the lead boat. Green Dragon, for example, is just four miles south of Ericsson 4.

Ian Walker, skipper of Green Dragon, promised broken records, plenty of drama, or more likely a bit of both, in an email yesterday. Overnight, he was just as forceful in describing the conditions.

“This is insane – 35 knots of wind, pitch black, 1500 miles from land and we are desperately trying to squeeze more speed from a boat that feels and sounds like it is going to self destruct any second. We have to push hard to stay ahead of the [cold] front.”

The entire fleet is churning up the miles. At the 07:00 GMT report, everyone had posted 24-hour runs of over 450 miles, and both Ericsson boats, PUMA and Green Dragon have all breached the 500 miles barrier.

It’s interesting to note that on the 07:00 report, the Data Centre is showing average wind speeds in the 30 knot range, with gusts over 40 for all of the leading boats. And maximum wave height is now above 7-metres – recorded by Telefonica Blue. Before the day is out, it is likely the record number will rise further.