For the last 24 hours it feels as though Ericsson 3 has been stalking us! They are right there about three miles behind us and a mile to weather. Of course I say this in the full realisation that they aren't stalking us, but actually trying to overtake us, laughing as they sail away over the horizon before their ultimate arrival in Rio days before us. How do I know this? Because of course we're trying to do exactly the same to them! And their team mates on Ericsson 4, in fact every other boat out here.
In my opinion, Ericsson 3 seems to be the one boat that we have seen the most over the course of the race. They always seem to be lurking around somewhere and often show great bursts of speed which gives them the ability to stay in the fight and also get them out of trouble when they need to.
Yesterday was a great case in point, as they had somehow overnight managed to make up a 50 mile deficit to put themselves right alongside us as we approached the Equator after 3000 miles of sailing. Of course, they also seem to be having a ton of fun on their boat and I like that. The Ericsson 3 crew is quite a bit younger (except Magnus Olsson, who would fit right in over here) than all of us here on Il Mostro, therefore we don't know them individually so well. One exception would be Magnus Woxén ‘Baggy'", who joined Ericsson 3 for this leg. He's done a bunch of sailing with many of us on the PUMA team and is a well known face around the race...
Talking of fun, yesterday we had a brilliant combined Equator crossing and cigar smoking party for Michi to celebrate the birth of his daughter -Mia Colata. We are all Shellbacks on the boat so there was need to worry about any initiation ceremonies; this gave us the chance to just enjoy the moment. Jerry (Jerry Kirby) brought along some Cuban cigars (the good ones) for Michi, but he wouldn't even touch them - the rest of us were happy to help out. Justin (Ferris) sneaked a small bottle of rum aboard disguised as sewing machine oil and we all managed a nip of that as well.
It was good to have everyone up on deck for 15 minutes. Fortunately, the ‘Scandihooligans' on Ericsson 3 must have been having an even bigger time because while the party rocked, Il Mostro sailed right away and took about 1/2 mile out of them. Sidney Gavignet, representing the Northern Hemisphere, drove the boat to the Equator before handing over to Rob Salthouse, representing The Southern Hemisphere; a nice momen