Ericsson 4 and 3 are making gains on the Spanish Boat 1000 miles from Boston

Telefónica Blue should have been looking ahead to a clear win in Boston, but nothing has gone according to plan. The Weather has played a huge part in leg 6, with Ericsson 4 and 3 continuing to close on the leaders. The gap last night was a worrying 15 miles with only 1,150 nm of runway left for Telefónica Blue to the finish in Boston.

In a radio interview, Ericsson 4 skipper, and overall race leader, Torben Grael, explained:

“Slowly but surely, we are eating into Telefónica Blue’s lead, and the race is now much more open. At the same time, we are having a good fight with Ericsson 3 and PUMA for second place. We are always within five to 10 miles of each other. We are all giving it our utmost to try to get that second spot. The position we have in the fleet obviously influences the mood on board, but it’s part of ocean sailing to concentrate at all times to do a good job and to have patience when things don’t go so well.”

Ahead, the weather is due to change. According to race meteorologist Jennifer Lilly, low pressure has been moving slowly over the east coat this week, leaving wet and cool conditions for the shore teams in Boston. This same low will move off the coast tomorrow and will pass over the fleet sometime on Friday giving gusty winds and squalls. If the fleet is near the Gulf Stream, it will cause rapidly building seas.

According to Grael, this will mean a tack onto port, the first time since the start of the leg near Rio de Janeiro. “The poor boat has been on starboard tack the whole time! We will then have different wind, which will bring us some new opportunities.”

Volvo Race organisers are predicting will finish in Boston on Sunday afternoon. Although the two Ericsson boats are still sailing a knot faster and recorded a 24-hour run of 419 against Telefónica Blue’s 410nm, the blue boat is still holding her own.

Positions, 23 April 2000 GMT:

1. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) DTF 1,150 nm
2. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) 15nm
3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) 23nm
4. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) 37 nm
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) 71nm
6. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) 79 nm
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) 136 nm
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS