OverviewAlicante – Cape Town – Cochin – Singapore – Qingdao – Rio de Janeiro – Boston – Galway – Marstrand – Stockholm – St Petersburg
Torben Grael / BRA
|Juan Kouyoumdjian Volvo Open 70
- Leg 1 started from Alicante for the first time.
- Telefónica put in for repairs to their tiller arm 12 hours into Leg 1.
- Ericsson 4 made a detour at the Cape Verde islands to evacuate Tony Mutter who had a knee injury.
- Ericsson 4 claimed a new the 24-hour monohull record with an astounding 596.6 miles run on Leg 1.
- The race stopped in India, Singapore and China for the first time.
- At 12,300 nm, Leg 5 from Qingdao in China to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil was the longest leg in the history of the race.
- StealthPlay made its one-race appearance. It allowed a team to hide a tactical move by disappearing from position reports for 12 hours. It could be played in legs one, two, five, six and seven.
- Ericsson entered two boats. Veteran racer, Magnus Olsson, became the skipper of Ericsson 3 for Leg 5 until the end of the race. The team was docked points for a non-compliant keel on Leg 1. A new keel was fitted in Cape Town.
- Telefónica entered two boats. Olympic gold medallist Fernando Echávarri skippered Telefónica Black.
- Ian Walker, British Olympic silver medallist made his debut as skipper of Green Dragon.
- Ken Read made his debut as skipper of PUMA Ocean Racing.
- Russian millionaire Oleg Zherebotsov made a private entry, but funds ran out after the boat arrived in Singapore and the team retired. Austrian Andreas Hanakamp was the skipper.
- The former ABN AMRO ONE returned as Delta Lloyd. It was the first time since the introduction of a single class that a first generation boat had raced around the world for a second time.
- Media crewmembers were on board for the first time. Acting as embedded reporters, their role was a non-sailing one. They were responsible for producing and transmitting all onboard media as well as cooking and cleaning the boat.
- Telefónica Blue was the top scoring boat in the In-Port series.
- This is the only race to date when no boats were dismasted.
|Podium positions (on points)|
|Ericsson 4 114.5 points
PUMA 105.5 points
Telefónica Blue 98 points
|Alicante - Cape Town
Cape Town - Cochin
Cochin - Singapore
Singapore - Qingdao
Qingdao - Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro - Boston
Boston - Galway
Galway - Gothenburg/Marstrand
Gothenburg/Marstrand - Stockholm
Stockholm - St Petersburg
|Start date||Leg distance||Winner|
PUMA Ocean Racing
Leg 1Alicante to Cape Town
The two Ericsson boats left the Mediterranean in the lead, while Telefónica Blue suffered a broken tiller arm and put into port for a 12-hour repair job.
On the approach to the Canary Islands, it wasn't clear whether an easterly or westerly passage would be best. Green Dragon made a sharp right turn under the cover of StealthPlay and became the westernmost boat as the fleet lined up for the Doldrums. Ericsson 4, was forced to detour to the Cape Verde Islands to evacuate Tony Mutter, who was suffering from a bad infection in his knee.
Green Dragon crossed the Doldrums first and took first place at the Fernando de Noronha scoring gate.
At the head of the fleet, the boats were separated by just a handful of miles as they monitored the development of a low-pressure system. As the low overtook the fleet, Ericsson 4 edged ahead and then set a new 24-hour monohull record of 596.6nm, eventually winning Leg 1.
Telefónica Black broke a rudder, tore off the bowsprit and damaged a daggerboard after launching off a wave. They finished last.
Leg 2Cape Town to India
A scoring gate to the east meant heading into the Southern Ocean briefly before turning north for India. It wasn’t long before the big winds and waves began to take their toll. Green Dragon broke her steering gear, resulting in a crash gybe. Team Russia had a spectacular broach, but suffered no damage, but Green Dragon broke her boom and PUMA launched off a wave landing with a sickening thud, which broke the main longitudinal support frame.
Ericsson 4 proved her class, racing through the scoring gate at top speed. Ericsson 3, with a new keel, crossed second, while the boomless Green Dragon resurged to take third.
As the fleet turned north, the winds eased, but a broken daggerboard on Telefónica Blue meant sailing a course much further west than planned.
The fleet compressed in the Doldrums and, under a rain cloud, Ericsson 4 popped out with a 30-mile lead. First Ericsson 4 and then Telefónica Blue benefitted from new westerly winds and, as the third week began, Ericsson 4 and Telefónica Blue were long gone and finished the leg first and second.
Leg 3India to Singapore
As the fleet left India, streaking down the continent and turning left into the Bay of Bengal, Telefónica Blue built an early lead, taking a huge gamble well to the south of the rest of the fleet.
On Delta Lloyd, a keel ram had separated from the bulkhead. The crew pinned the keel in the centre of the boat and ploughed on. The racing was intense. The fleet converged in the approach to the scoring gate, which Ericsson 4 crossed first and she turned right and entered the busy Malacca Strait for the final push to Singapore.
Ericsson 4 took a 42-mile lead, while Telefónica Blue was becalmed stuck motionless under a cloud for two hours. With a small group of islands ahead, Ericsson 4 went offshore and Telefónica Blue hugged the coast. Within six hours, Telefónica Blue was just three miles behind, sailing neck-and-neck with Ericsson 3 and making seven knots faster than Ericsson 4. Three hours later, Telefónica Blue took the lead and Ericsson 4 was fourth with barely 200 miles to go to the finish line.
During the final 10 days at sea, just two miles separated the leading four boats, Telefónica Blue, Ericsson 3, Ericsson 4 and PUMA. At the finish, Telefónica Blue had a 17-minute lead and, PUMA, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 all finished within three minutes.
Leg 4Singapore to Qingdao
Unmarked shallows and a stretch of water known as Kuroshio or the Black Tide – a strong current that flows through the Luzon Strait towards Japan - were the challenges the fleet faced on Leg 4. A huge, steep seaway was whipped up where the Kuroshio met the freezing winds heading from Siberia and the fleet, now reduced to six after Team Russia retired from the race due to lack of funding , were endured a tortuous leg.
After five days of racing, the fleet reached entrance to the Luzon Strait where a storm was waiting. Thirty knots of wind was expected, but, in reality, the wind was blowing closer to 40. The fleet headed for the shelter of the Philippine coast, waiting for an ease in the weather before out across the open water of the Luzon Strait towards China.
Those that attempted to cross the strait reported eight-metre waves and 58-knot gusts. PUMA returned with a smashed boom, followed by Delta Lloyd, whose mainsail had been shredded and her steering gear damaged and Green Dragon, who cracked part of her hull structure. It was carnage.
Telefónica Blue took the risk and headed out into storm. The crew was able to keep control and use their lead to win what most agreed was the hardest leg ever sailed. Telefónica Black followed her into the Strait. Her hull was holed and she was taking on water. The team headed for land and retired, only returning to the racetrack in Brazil, while Delta Lloyd too suffered serious hull damage and retired. They also re-joined the fleet in Brazil. Ericsson 3 damaged her hull but limped to Taiwan for major repairs. She returned and finished the leg several hours after the fleet had already left for Rio.
Leg 5Qingdao to Rio
At 12,300 miles and with two scoring gates, Leg 5 was longer than any previous leg and expected to take up to 40 days. With Ericsson 3 still a few hours away from finishing Leg 4, and Delta Lloyd and Telefónica Black on cargo ships to Brazil, there were just four boats on the start line. Moments before the gun, Telefónica Blue grounded and returned to the dock for repairs, eventually starting 19 hours late. Meanwhile, Ericsson 3 completed Leg 4, stopped in China for two hours to load gear and started Leg 5 seven hours after the fleet had left.
The fleet blasted south and after seven days of reaching conditions Ericsson 3 and Telefónica Blue both caught and passed Green Dragon. Ericsson 4 led the fleet into what was a short and relatively painless Doldrums crossing before a week long match race began between the leaders as they headed for Fiji and then to the scoring gate at 36 degrees south.
After nearly three weeks at sea, Ericsson 4 crossed the first of the two scoring gates in the lead, just 10 minutes ahead of Ericsson 3 who was 10 minutes clear of PUMA despite her late start. Telefónica Blue recovered to beat Green Dragon for fourth and by day 20, the leaderboard showed Telefónica Blue to be the new leader.
As she crossed the scoring gate, Ericsson 3 left the fleet and tacked back northeast. The young navigator saw a huge area of high-pressure ahead was blocking the conventional route into the strong westerly breezes of the Southern Ocean. A low-pressure system was spinning up to the northeast and Ericsson 3 hit the centre on the afternoon of March 6, quickly breaking through into the strong northerly wind on the other side.
By the following morning, it was clear that Ericsson 3 had pulled off a brilliant coup and she never looked like losing her lead over the next 6,000 miles. The leg-winning move had been played. Ericsson 4 was second.
Leg 6Rio to Boston
Within hours of the light wind start, a crewmember was evacuated from Telefónica Black with an ankle injury. Telefónica Blue led the fleet for 12 of the 15 days of this leg, but an early gybe to the west under the cover of StealthPlay backfired. When she reappeared to the rest of the fleet, she was in third place. Three hours later, when Ericsson 4 emerged from her own StealthPlay, Telefónica Blue had fallen to fourth, nearly 55 miles behind the new leader and second-placed Ericsson 3.
Telefónica Blue clawed back one place on the final night at sea to finish just minutes behind Ericsson 3. Telefónica Black survived a collision with a whale to take fifth.
Leg 7Boston to Galway
The 2,550-mile transatlantic crossing was billed as a collision course and it nearly lived up to the prediction when a huge ship cut up the fleet minutes after the start. The main threats on this leg were lobster pots, icebergs, whales and ocean debris.
Telefónica Blue reached the scoring gate at 52 degrees west in first place, edging out PUMA by less than a minute after four days of sailing. True to form, Ericsson 4 surged to the front at the halfway stage and, barring one slip to fourth on day six, she was never out of the top two before claiming her fourth leg win.
PUMA lost one a rudder in heavy seas two days before the finish and the crew made a mid-ocean replacement. It sent them plummeting down the leaderboard to fifth, but they fought on to beat Green Dragon and take second. But it was the Irish-Chinese entry Green Dragon, who stole the show. Crossing the finish line in their homeport in the middle of the night, more than 3,000 people crowded the docks to see them record their best offshore finish.
Telefónica Blue could only manage fourth and was now 14.5 points behind Ericsson 4. Ericsson 3 finished last after a collision with a whale two days into the leg damaged their keel and cost 10 per cent of their speed. It was a cruel end to their run of form.
Leg 8Galway to Marstrand
The 1,250-mile leg began with a furious downwind blast in more than 20 knots of wind as the fleet headed south down the west coast of Ireland, passing inside the Fastnet Rock and then out across the English Channel. Ericsson 4 suffered an awful gybe and followed it with another wipe out, smashing a steering wheel into eight pieces and opening a crack between the cockpit floor and the hull. It was a problem but she raced on.
PUMA had come into the leg buoyed by winning the Galway In-Port race – her first win of any description in the race – but she struggled to find a rhythm in this leg. The battle for second was in the balance and when she blew up a crucial spinnaker soon after the Hook of Holland, she tumbled to the back of the pack. Lady luck came to the rescue and, with a strong following breeze; it was enough to propel PUMA into third place. Off the tip of Denmark, she overtook Green Dragon and finished less than a minute ahead in second place. Ericsson 4 won her fifth leg of the race – her third in succession – and the margin stood at 15 points with just 20 left to play for from the two remaining legs and one in-port race.
Leg 9Marstrand to Stockholm
The scene was set for a thrilling battle between PUMA and Telefónica Blue, with just one point splitting them ahead of a 525-mile sprint down the coast. Telefónica Blue led the fleet out of Marstrand when she hit a rock at 15 knots. The crash sent a daggerboard through the hull and the keel became lodged on the rock, the boat rocking precariously. The crew battled to plug the hole in the hull, while the local coastguard, emergency services and PUMA’s shore crew helped pull the boat free. She headed for port where she stayed for repairs until long after the rest of the fleet had finished.
Out on the racetrack PUMA had taken the lead followed narrowly by Ericsson 3. Inside the final few miles, a mistake by PUMA allowed Ericsson 3 to move from half a mile astern into the slenderest of leads. The pair approached the Sandhamn finish line, tacking furiously. But Ericsson 3 snagged her jib on the radar dome with just a few hundred metres to the line. PUMA cruised past and won a leg for the first time. Ericsson 4 finished third and made her overall race win a mathematical certainty.
Leg 10Stockholm to St Petersburg
The competition for the final leg was tight and the finish even tighter. In an absorbing tacking duel for the line, Telefónica Black held off PUMA by a couple of boat lengths to record her first leg win, surpassing the crew’s greatest expectations. Ericsson 4 had won the race overall, PUMA was second and Telefónica Blue third.
Crews 2008-09Sailor by team
Stu Bannatyne, Horacio Carabelli, David Endean, Ryan Godfrey, Torben Grael, Brad Jackson, Phil Jameson, Tony Mutter, Guy Salter (OBR), Julian Salter, Joca Signorini
PUMA Ocean Racing
Andrew Cape, Rick Deppe (OBR), Shannon Falcone, Justin Ferris, Sidney Gavignet, Rob Greenhalgh, Jerry Kirby, Jonathan McKee, Michi Mϋller, Robbie Naismith, Chris Nicholson, Ken Read, Rob Salthouse, Craig Satterthwaite, Casey Smith, Erle Williams
Jens Dolmer, Thomas Johanson, Martin Krite, Anders Lewander, Aksel Magdahl, Richard Mason, Elvind Melleby, Gustav Morin, Stefan Myrälf, Jann Neergaard, Klas Nylöf, Magnus Olsson, Arvé Roaas, Anders Dahlsjö, Arvé Roaas, Martin Strömberg, Magnus Woxén
Tom Braidwood, Ian Budgen, James Carrol, Guo Chuan (OBR), Damian Foxall, Phil Harmer, Steve Hayles, Chris Main, Neal McDonald, Andrew McLean, Anthony Merrington, Scott Miller, Ian Moore, Jean-Luc Nélias, Freddie Shanks, Justin Slattery, Wouter Verbraak, Ian Walker
Gonzalo Araujo, Jaime Arbones, Maciel Cicchetti, Fernando Echávarri, Pablo Iglesias, Santiago Lange, Ñeti Cuervas-Mons, Roger Nilson, Mike Pammenter, Mikel Pasabant (OBR), Antón Paz, Javier de la Plaza, Francisco Rivero, David Vera
Guillermo Altadill, Roberto 'Chuny' Bérmudez, Nick Bice, Ben Costello, André Fonseca, Matthew Gregory, Ryan Houston, Frits Koek, Stuart Molloy, Edwin O'Connor, Ger O'Rourke, David Pella, Sander Pluijm (OBR), Gerd-Jan Poortman, Bert Schandevyl, Eduard van Lierde, Peter van Niekerk, Wouter Verbraak, Martin Watts, Morgan White, Stuart Wilson
Guillermo Altadill, Sergey Bogdanov (OBR), Nick Bubb, Ben Costello, Mark Covell, (OBR) Jeremy Elliott, Scott Gray, Andreas Hanakamp, Michael Joubert, Rodion Luka, Wouter Verbraak, Stig Westergaard, Cameron Wills, Oleg Zherebtsov