At sea. Volvo Ocean Race: Ericsson lost ground due to the needs for a sail repair
David Rolf repairs a sail : © Ericsson Racing Team
Photo: David Rolf repairs a sail : © Ericsson Racing Team - click picture to enlarge
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Thursday, 13 April 2006
Annabel Merrison:
Gains and losses seem to be the order of the day, as teams take it in turn to win and lose on the six hourly scheds. At the 1000 GMT position report, it was Ericsson and Brasil 1 that had the losses within the fleet. Ericsson, suffering with a sail that needed mending, slipped nine miles since 2200 GMT yesterday, losing seven miles in the last six hours. Overall positions remain unchanged, and the competitors wait with anticipation for the beautiful trade wind sailing to end and the light, fluky conditions to kick in.

"Sailing conditions are gorgeous," commented skipper John Kostecki yesterday evening. "It's sunny with clear blue sky and we're cruising along at 20 knots in 20 knots of breeze."

However, the "cruise" through the Caribbean will shortly end, and the boats will soon want to hook into the Gulf Stream, which will take them north to Cape Hatteras and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. Before this, they have two tricky weather situations to negotiate over the next few days. The first of these is a small low forming over Cuba, which the fleet will want to avoid, whilst going close enough to get some wind from it. The second is a high pressure cell that will ridge in behind and above the low. The teams will have to find the fastest way through this light patch as there is no way to go around it.

"We've got a little bit of a race on our hands with Brasil 1 and the Pirates," said Kostecki last night. Twenty-four hours from now the wind will start to lighten up. It will be light and variable for the next few days, providing opportunities to catch up with the leaders as they will hit the light patch first."

At 1000 GMT today, Ericsson was in fifth place, 24 nautical miles behind Brasil 1 and 51 nautical miles behind Pirates of the Caribbean. ABN Amro still leads the fleet, with a 109 mile advantage over the Swedish entry.

"Before we get into Baltimore there are going to be a variety of changes and obviously we are hoping to take advantage of them," said Neal McDonald. "The biggest challenge at the moment is to keep pushing at all times. The first week was very intense because everyday we saw one or two boats which made it very easy to drive everybody in the team. The last five to six days we haven't really seen another boat so it's like racing an imaginary electronic opponent. It's so important to keep fighting all the way to the end of this leg."

What will happen in the Chesapeake is a little hard to know at this point, but if past experience in anything to go by, anything could happen. Conditions will be variable and no one will be able to rest easily until they cross the finish line.

Skipper John Kostecki has an added incentive to get home: "I am really looking forward to arriving in Baltimore - it's a great place and I have lots of friends there who I am looking forward to seeing. But for now we are really focussed on making gains in these next few days and trying to pass the other boats."

The fleet is due to arrive into Baltimore in approximately 5 days time.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 April 2006 )
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