Bringing up the rear

Telefonica Blue arrives in Rio de Janiero to conclude leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race

Sunday March 29th 2009, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: United Kingdom
At 03:55 GMT, in the early hours (00:55 local time) of a rainy Sunday morning, Telefónica Blue eased across the finish line off the Marina da Gloria in Rio de Janeiro to take fifth place in leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race. Her elapsed time for leg five was 42 days, 22 hours and 55 minutes.

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be for skipper Bouwe Bekking/NED and his team. Following two consecutive leg wins, Tom Addis was promoted from strategist to navigator. And after changing to larger rudders for this leg, the Telefónica Blue squad had high hopes of closing the gap with the front-running Ericsson 4.

But before the race had started, the team ran aground on a submerged rock outside the harbour in Qingdao. Skipper Bekking quickly made the decision not to take the start and instead Telefónica Blue returned to the Olympic harbour in Qingdao where the boat was hauled out for the damage to be assessed.

In the event, there was no structurally significant damage and the team resumed racing just shy of 19 hours after the start of the leg. From then onwards, the Telefónica Blue was on the back foot.

They fought hard to get back into the mix with the rest of the fleet, but 20 days into the leg, a broken forestay forced the team to make heroic efforts to save the mast from tumbling down, but at that point, their competitive hopes in leg five were all but extinguished as the team was restricted to using smaller headsails.

A late charge on the final section of the race course brought the team within hours of fourth-placed Green Dragon, but to no avail - four points, from a fifth place finish drops the team to third place on the overall leaderboard behind Ericsson 4 and Puma.

“I think we have a really good chance actually,” Bekking said when asked about the impact of this leg on the overall leaderboard. “I think Ericsson 4 will be scratching their heads a little bit because they haven’t been winning the last three legs. They are definitely beatable I think.”

Leg Five Finishing Order – Rio de Janeiro
1. Ericsson 3: 8 points
2. Ericsson 4: 7 points
3. PUMA: 6 points
4. Green Dragon: 5 points
5. Telefonica Blue: 4 points
Overall Leaderboard (Provisional)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) 63.5 points (FINISHED)
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA) 53 points (FINISHED)
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 50.5 points (FINISHED)
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) 43.5 (FINISHED)
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) 39.5 (FINISHED)
6. Telefónica Black 21 (DNS)
7. Delta Lloyd 12 (DNS)
8. Team Russia 10.5 (DNS)

More photos on the following pages...

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