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Ericsson 4 wins first leg of Volvo Ocean Race

November 2, 2008 |  8:49 am

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Skipper Torben Grael and Ericsson Racing Team, aboard Ericsson 4, pulled into Cape Town, South Africa, this morning as winners of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race around the world.

The vessel covered the 6,500-mile leg, from Alicante, Spain, in 21 days, 17 hours and 54 minutes. "We feel very good about it," said Grael, a Brazilian who heads an international crew. "But there's a lot of race to go. This is just the beginning."

High points included leading the fleet through the Straits of Gibraltar alongside Ericsson 3, placing second at the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha but setting a world 24-hour speed record of 602.66 nautical miles (pending ratification) to claim the lead.

Low points were having to leave crewman Tony Mutter at the Cape Verde Islands because of an infected knee, and a shorthanded sail through the Doldrums, which forced the crew to play catch-up.

"The hardest moment was entering the Doldrums and deciding to take a hit on mileage to set up for a westerly pass," said Jules Salter, the navigator. "Obviously, there's always something going on in the race."

At one point, the vessel was so close to the U.S. entry Puma that they were able to do live, two-boat testing, changing sail configurations or trimming angles to gauge speed differences.

The Nordic crew on Ericsson 3 also is gunning for a podium finish. At last position report, Capt. Anders Lewander's crew was 347 miles from the finish and 28 miles ahead of Green Dragon.

The second leg of the eight-team race is from Cape Town to Cochin, India.

Photo: Ericsson 4 and its international crew receive a sunrise escort into Cape Town, South Africa, as winners of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race around the world.
Credit: Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race

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