Ericsson 4 clinches in-port
The second in the series of seven in-port races, the results of which count towards the overall result of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 started at 0525 GMT, 1325 local time in a building 15 knot northerly. Between the lulls and puffs there were shifts of up to 45 degrees and with a 1.5 knot tide it kept the crews busy on the two mile course. Both sides of the race course were lined with spectator boats for the first ever southeast Asia in-port race.
Two races were held and the results are combined to give an overall winner for the day. Puma dominated the first race in an impressive display of solid sailing and race tactics, leading the fleet from start to finish and holding Ericsson 4 at bay. Telefónica Blue and Green Dragon showed good form and fought throughout the short windward/leeward course for third place, the finishing order only being decided on the final run when Telefónica Blue edged ahead.
Ericsson 3, skippered by Magnus Olsson/SWE, who has stepped up to take charge of the boat while regular skipper Anders Lewander/SWE recovers from knee surgery, finished fifth.
Telefónica Black was OCS at the start gun and had to return to start properly, but made a good recovery to finish in sixth place.
Delta Lloyd, with new navigator, Guillermo Altadill temporarily replacing Matt Gregory until Wouter Verbraak steps on board from Team Russia, finished in seventh after a promising start, but sail-handling difficulties meant they were never really in contention.
In race two, the first four finishers in the first race opted for the right hand side of the course, while the bottom three headed for the shore immediately after the start. The offshore side of the track clearly had more pressure as Telefónica Blue led from Ericsson 4 at the windward mark. Green Dragon came in to the mark on port and tacked just inside Puma to round fourth, with Telefónica Black approaching quickly from the left hand side of the course.
As the fleet split again, Puma opted for the right hand side with good pressure, while Ericsson 4 and Green Dragon went left allowing Ericsson 4 to grab the lead. Ericsson 4 maintained its lead up the second beat using covering tactics, and led Telefónica Blue by about three boatlengths at the second windward mark.
The last run was anything but a procession. Puma came smoking through the fleet, to rejoin the top four. Telefónica Blue attacked from the right hand side of the course.
Ericsson 4's lead became tenuous when the spinnaker sheet got under the bow of the boat as the crew was about to gybe. That allowed Telefónica Blue to gain a slight advantage. On board Ericsson 4 tactician Stu Bannatyne saw a new line of breeze coming in from behind and called for a gybe back to starboard. With the puff nearing 20 knots, the bows were lifting out of the water and spray was flying as the powerful VO70s screamed towards the finish. In mad four way dash Ericsson 4 fought to hold off Telefónica Black, and finished the race in pole position. Telefónica Black was second, and third was Telefónica Blue in a photo finish. Puma finished ahead of Green Dragon in fourth, Ericsson 3 was sixth, and Delta Lloyd, still struggling due to lack of practise on the water, due to work being carried out on her keel, was seventh.
Overall, the day belonged to Ericsson 4 who won the UBS Challenge for the In-Port Race in the Volvo Ocean Race in Singapore, with a second in race one and a win in race two, extending her lead overall and bringing her tally to 39 points.
"I couldn't be more pleased, it was a hard week for us," said skipper Torben Grael. "We haven't practiced in-port racing all that much, not since the first one in Spain. The way the wind was shifting, positions were never secure. It was very demanding on the crew."
Puma took 3.5 points for a win in race one and a fourth place in race two, for a total of 31 points.
Ken Read reported: "Our first In Port race here today in Singapore was fast, smart, we had a good start, took a great shift; we were really pleased with our performance. Unfortunately in the second race, our keel system shut down just at the worst possible moment. Four boats just sailed around us as it took us three minutes to get it sorted, and we then had to play catch up for the rest of the race, which is not so fun, but got ourselves back into fourth. One little problem like that can easily turn into a major and playing from the front is much more fun than playing from the back.”
Third was Telefónica Blue, who scored three points for two third places (33.5 total).
Telefónica Black was fourth and earned 2.5 points for a sixth and a second (22 points total). Green Dragon was fifth and added two points for a fourth and a fifth (22.5 points total).
Skipper Ian Walker commented: “It was certainly a fantastic spectacle, but ultimately a frustrating day for us. I think all in all we sailed well, we did well to take fourth on the first race and on the last race we were pleased to be third round the last mark. But the wind was incredibly shifty on the final stretch, and we got caught out with no wind, it was disappointing to have boats pass us so close to the finish, and so we ended up having to settle for fifth. But there was some good sailing in some great conditions”.
Ericsson 3 claimed 1.5 points for a fifth and a sixth (24 points total), and, finally, Delta Lloyd scored one point for two seventh places (10 points total).
The next race in the in-port series will be held in Qingdao, China on 7 February after the finish of leg four (2,500 nautical miles), which starts next Sunday, 18 January.
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 39 points
2.Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 33.5 points
3. Puma (Ken Read/USA): 31 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 24 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 22.5 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echavarri/ESP): 22 points
7. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points
8. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 10 points