November 27, 2008 @ 19:08:19   Foto Photos by Gustav Morin-Ericsson 3/Gabriele Olivo-Telefonica Blue/Sander Pluijm-Team Delta Lloyd/VOLVO OCEAN RACE

Skipper Anders Lewander helming Ericsson 3

1 AV 5

Thursday 27 November

Spirit levels are rising on board as the gloom of two days in the Doldrums begins to lift. The slow march to the exit ramp for Cochin has begun.

When an email arrives in race HQ’s inbox with a subject line of “Good morning from Ericsson 4” you know that moods have taken a swing for the better.

That was precisely the nature of the dispatch from bowman Ryan Godfrey. ”Warm times aboard today as we leave the rain clouds of the Doldrums and head into clear blue skies,” he wrote.

”Several of the boys have moved their mattresses up on deck now in the hope that sleeping temperatures are slightly more bearable than down below. The boat is humming to the sound of our little bunk fans desperately trying to get some air flow happening below decks.

’A virtual pinball machine of bad clouds’

Torben Grael’s men held a 72-mile lead over the pack. With conditions likely to be fickle for much of the next 100 miles, there was intense rivalry between the pretenders to podium positions.

With just 12 miles separating the gang of five behind E4, places are being regularly traded. Telefonica Blue (+72 Distance To Leader) gained two places in the last three hours jumping both Ericsson 3 (+81) and Green Dragon (+86) who are third and fourth respectively.

Delta Lloyd (+88), still making inroads, is now ahead of PUMA (+93). The cat was stopped in its tracks by “bad clouds” – a cost of 15 miles and two places. ”I was told this Doldrums place could be a real killer, but I had no idea it could be this bad,” said PUMA skipper Ken Read. “Believe me, we aren’t trying to sail in the bad clouds, just the opposite. We were in a virtual pinball machine of bad clouds.”

At the tail, Telefonica Black (+154) out west, and Team Russia (+187) to the east, have swapped places.

For the navigators, the skies above have been clouding their judgement and respite from the tactical intensity of the past 48 hours is long overdue. For Team Russia’s Wouter Verbraak, it has been all about “cloud chasing”.

”The Doldrums are making themselves felt with huge squall systems followed by dead calms. Think the Atlantic Doldrums are a challenge? Try these for a laugh,” he says.


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