Tue, Oct 14, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Ericsson take lead in Volvo race around the world

AFP , MADRID

Ericsson 3 races at the start of the first leg of the around-the-world Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante, Spain, on Saturday. The 10th edition of what started in 1973 as the Whitbread race is the longest and most challenging ever, and for the first time includes three stops in Asia: in Cochin in India, Singapore and Qingdao in China. The finish line is at St Petersburg, Russia, where the teams are expected in June.

PHOTO: AFP

The two ships belonging to Swedish team Ericsson on Sunday took the lead of the Volvo Ocean Race around the world one day after it departed from Spain, while Spanish team Telefonica Blue’s ship had to make a stop to repair steering damage.

Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 were tied in the lead after they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar on their way down the Atlantic to Cape Town in South Africa, where the first leg of the race will end.

Telefonica Blue meanwhile stopped at the port of Algeciras in the Bay of Gibraltar to fix a tiller arm which broke after they were just 32km into the first leg, leaving them with just one rudder. They now have to serve a 12-hour penalty under the pit stop rule before restarting.

“How do we feel? Just gutted. The good thing is that we crawled back on some of the other boats, but the Ericsson guys are in fat city,” Dutch skipper Bouwe Bekking said in the dispatch sent to race headquarters.

Winds, which were gusting at more than 20 knots an hour (37kph) when the race got underway, have weakened to between 5 knots and 6 knots.

Thousands of people and hundreds of spectator boats saw off the eight yachts representing seven nations on Saturday from the Mediterranean port of Alicante.

After 37,000 nautical miles (68,500km), the finish line is in St Petersburg, Russia.

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