Team Ericsson have lost ground overnight and are now neck and neck with Pirates and Brasil 1 4/6/06

At 0400 this morning Neal McDonald and team aboard Ericsson still maintain slight control of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 8 but their lead has been eroded overnight. They are now struggling to hold off the ever-threatening Pirates of the Caribbean team who are neck-and-neck as they pass the Scilly Isles.

Torben Grael’s Brasil 1 team who led the fleet off the line on Friday evening from Portsmouth is also in the hunt just one mile from Ericsson.

The winds, in total contrast to the big breeze that greeted the fleet as they arrived in Portsmouth, have (combined with the strong tidal streams) over the last 24 hours provided plenty of tactical opportunities. And with the winds expected to remain fairly light over the next few days an interesting scenario is likely to develop over the next few hours.

Confirming their vulnerable position Ken Read crewmember aboard Ericsson said: “Although we are happy with the current positioning we are by no means disillusioned to think that we are off and running. This will be light air and very tricky for a couple more days at least. You need a bit of skill to get around these tricky parts, but you also need a ton of luck…

“The forecast is for more of the same for a long long time. But looking in the eyes of my crew mates after getting bashed around for the last 4 thousand miles I think everyone is enjoying the change of pace and dry warmer conditions.”

The fleet is currently 121 miles south-east of the Fastnet Rock and 130 miles from Mizen Head on the south coast of Ireland.