Volvo Ocean Race Leg 4 looks like it is going to be one of the most challenging so far in this around the world sailing race.  Current Volvo Ocean race overall leader Ericsson 4 is left playing catch up at the back of the fleet.  All of the boats barring the Telefonica twins lost miles overnight as PUMA were pushed down from pole and Telefonica Black took charge.

Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race by Yongtao Jiang

The Dragon has been slowly creeping up in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, gaining miles on each position report on the boats ahead of them. There are about 60 miles separating the fleet west to the east as they prepare for some fairly challenging waters in the South China Sea. One of the biggest issues ahead are the Spratly Islands. The next few days will be tense for the skippers and navigators as they try and navigate through these islands whilst still keeping up the speed and covering the miles towards the waypoint at South Rock Light.

Up until now there have been some fairly uneventful days sailing as the fleet stayed on port tack, but the first shift came through a day ago meaning all hands on deck. But the fleet were dealt another big shift today, which forced the whole fleet to tack again.

Volvo’s race expert Mark Chisnell explains the issues on the race course
The wind shift to the south-east allowed everyone who got it to sail directly towards South Rock Light – which they have to stay to the east of, And while that wind direction held, Ericsson 3 were looking golden.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last – the fleet all suffered a backing (rotating anti-clockwise) shift next. The amount of shift has varied – for some it blew from the north for a short time – but mostly it ended up at about north-northeast, or around 25 degrees. So with the course to the waypoint at about 15 degrees, and the wind blowing from around 25 degrees, South Rock was as close to dead upwind as makes no difference. And this is when the bulk of the leverage opened up – and fates were decided. PUMA, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 all went east, while Telefonica Black, Telefonica Blue, Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd got going north at the first opportunity.

Update from Skipper Ian Walker : It’s not often that I am lost for words but I have little to say today. We continue to plod upwind and even had the excitement of some tacks which came in a bit of a flurry as we got hit by one big shift after another this morning. It seems that Ericsson 3 have done a really nice job of footing into the right hand shift and have managed to consolidate their gains. We have also slipped past Delta Lloyd in our own private battle but it remains very close. The wind is clearly very variable for the leaders and we have to hope this may help us to catch up some miles. Onboard life is pretty easy with few sail changes and only a few tacks. Even the freeze dried food tastes better so I must be getting used to ‘offshore life’. We have hit some quite considerable amount of debris in the water and have just removed a bamboo shoot from the daggerboard but so far nothing has lead to any damage that we know of. The boat remains in perfect shape although it is quite clear she is happier sailing downwind than up. That goes for all the sailors too!

Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DTF 1674 nm
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +5
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +9
Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +28
Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) +29
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) +29
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +51

Green Dragon Racing

Read more –

  1. Volvo Ocean Race – Leg 4 – So Long Singapore (watch video of the start too)

  2. Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 – All In, One Out (w/ sailing video)
  3. Volvo Ocean Race Leg 3 – India Bids Farewell (w/ sailing video)
  4. Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 – South Africa to India
  5. Sailing Photo of the Week – Volvo Ocean Race in Cape Town
  6. New Sailing World Record – Ericsson 4 Breaks the 600 Mile Barrier in Volvo Ocean Race
  7. Volvo Ocean Race Start
  8. Volvo Ocean Race – Yacht Troubles and Pirate Dangers
  9. Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 – Ericsson 4 Takes Line Honors
  10. Volvo Ocean Race

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