At sea. Volvo Ocean Race: Ericsson Racing Team hardly notices the Doldrums
Ericsson off French Guiana
Photo: Ericsson off French Guiana - click picture to enlarge
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Monday, 10 April 2006
Annabel Merrison:

After crossing the Doldrums and hardly noticing them, the Ericsson crew has now started a long drag race (2500 nautical miles) towards Baltimore. The fleet is currently south west of French Guiana, 800 nm off the coast.

The winds have been increasing gradually over the last few hours and naturally so have the boats. All of the fleet have recorded speeds of 20 knots or more for the first time this leg. The Volvo Ocean Race competitors are continuing their north westerly route off the coast of Brasil, with no change in the leaderboard. ABN Amro One leads the pack, ahead of movistar, Pirates of the Caribbean, Brasil 1 and Ericsson in fifth.

"Our leg to date can be summed up as being nailed by two large clouds", summarizes Tim Powell. "The first one, before the scoring gate, saw us becalmed with ABN Amro One and Brazil 1 as the rest of the fleet put 15 miles on us. When conditions settled down we were sailing in light to moderate reaching conditions where we had good pace, opening up a 9 mile lead over Brazil and getting within 2 miles of the Pirates come the scoring gate. The "Volvo 80" ABN One though disappeared over the horizon as she does with any breeze doing about 1 knot faster. The second cloud came yesterday, when only 1.5 miles away from the Pirates we got swallowed up and at the next position report we found out that we had lost 10 miles. They have since got out of the doldrums and extended having got into the new breeze first. All in all fairly frustrating. We feel we have a good reaching speed and will endeavour to grind them down again."

On board Ericsson for the first time on leg 5, kiwi sail trimmer Ross Halcrow enjoys the sailing conditions: "We have broken out of the doldrums and we finally sail in good trade wind conditions, with 18 knots of wind. It is going beautifully. Everyone on board is positive and we are pushing as hard as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we got swallowed by a large cloud and lost 10 miles on Pirates. But there is a lot of yacht racing left and there will be plenty of opportunities to catch up."

Daily Log Written by John Kostecki (USA):

"We are currently hauling the mail in the Northeasterly trade winds. The wind speed is 20 knots, and so is the boat speed. These Volvo 70's are very powerful boats, yet very sensitive to the sail combination used and the set up. We are learning tons about our new and improved sail inventory, and how to get the best speed out of the boat.

We exited the doldrums early today after having a tough go versus our competitors. We found ourselves caught up under a couple of massive clouds that sucked the wind away, and watched as our competitors sailed away. But now, it is totally different sailing. It is a full drag race for around the next 2.000 miles across the trade wind section of this leg. This will be a real test on which team can get the most out of their boat.

Our Steiner Binoculars have been coming in handy for the light air cloudy patches. We have been able to monitor the cloud progression and our competitors by using this handy tool. We always keep the binos in a pocket up on deck, and these take a beating from saltwater emersion to being thrown and kicked around on deck."

John Kostecki
Last Updated ( Monday, 10 April 2006 )
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