As Puma wins leg 9, Ericsson 4 takes third and secures overall victory - Matthew Sheahan reports
Despite the local knowledge of Ericsson’s Nordic team breathing down their necks, Ken Read’s Puma has won leg 9 of the Volvo Ocean Race finishing just 10 boat lengths ahead of Ericsson 3.
Following closely behind, Ericsson 4 crossed the finish line in third, sufficient to take overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race by one point with an in port race and final leg in hand. The International crew now has a 13-point advantage with 12 points remaining in the race.
“We made a few errors on this leg, but we got what we wanted. So we’re pretty happy,” said skipper Torben Grael, 48, who becomes the first skipper to win the Volvo Ocean Race and Olympic gold . “We were very close when we got to Marstrand, but now it’s done. It’s finished. It’s a fantastic feeling.”
“I have to stress it’s a total team effort,” said watch captain and three-time race winner, Stu Bannatyne. “The whole thing started with Ericsson committing very early to doing this. We had good resources, committed early, got the right people and from there on all the right decisions were made.”
For Read’s team, second overall is not yet secure with 9 points separating them from Bouwe Bekking’s Telefonica Blue. Nevertheless following the dramatic start to leg 9 when Bekking’s boat hit the rocks and was forced to suspend racing, Puma’s latest result takes them one big step closer towards second overall.
Further down the table, Telefonica Blue takes third overall even if she doesn’t make it back into the water, while Ericsson 3 hangs on in fourth overall keeping Ian Walker’s Green Dragon team in fifth. At least for the time being.
The struggle between these two is the last of the close action in this race and could yet prove to be a needle match. For Walker’s team to take fourth they would need to have most of the fleet between them and their opponents for both the remaining races. Unlikely perhaps, yet given the Dragon’s recent performances in the last two legs it would be a rash move to bet against them. On the other hand the Baltic is home territory for E3 skipper Magnus Olsson and his crew, something the demonstrated clearly at the end of this leg.
Stockholm’s in port race takes place this Sunday 21 June with the start of the last leg on Thursday 25 June.
The Ericsson team has produced a number of video clips with images of the boats and comments from the crews. Worth a watch.
By the way, sorry about the late posting of last week’s Shoretalk, in the heat of the moment the ether gremlins held our audio file hostage, but we have it now.
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