Ericsson 4 Goes 2 for 2

Call him Torben Grael. That’s his name.

Or call him Torben Grail . He has the golden touch, and now as skipper of Ericsson 4 he has won two of two legs of the Volvo Ocean Race. The five-time Olympic medalist (two gold) was also tactician for the Luna Rossa challenge for the 2007 America’s Cup.

He and his crew brought Ericsson 4 across the leg-two finish line at Cochin, India, before dawn local time on November 29 after maintaining themselves as a darned good bet throughout the long, tumultuous passage from Cape Town, South Africa.

It was dawn by the time they made the dock.

Ericsson 4 covered the 4,450-mile passage in 14 days, 11 hours, increasing the team’s lead over the eight-boat fleet. Adding four points for passing through a leg-two scoring gate, the leg-two win boosts the team to a 26-point lead.

That’s nothing they will feel comfortable with, at this point. There have been many breakages in the fleet. If the VOR were not a multi-leg event with opportunities for repair, not all of this fleet would be going on.

Grael declared, “The trip had difficult conditions, cold and wet and light in the Doldrums. We had many breakdowns, but we got to the gate in a good position, and of course, we are very happy to be here in first place after a hard few days.”

British navigator, Jules Salter, said, “It’s a relief. Light airs prove more trouble than heavy, and it was hard trying to work out what was going on. This [final] afternoon was difficult to work out where the land breeze was coming from, but, luckily, it came.”

Telefonica Blue was the second boat to finish, a little past noon local time.

Turning Point

Ericsson’s big move came on day 12. The group of four boats, Ericsson 4, Ericsson 3, PUMA, and Green Dragon, all pursuing a middle lane through the Doldrums, were still tightly packed when Ericsson 4 disappeared into a very-particular rain shower. She emerged 48 miles ahead of Ericsson 3 and sailing at twice the speed of anyone else.

PS: Junior sailors, it all starts with learning to read the puffs.

Posted November 30 by KL

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