On Sunday evening in Rio de Janeiro, the Volvo Ocean Race family gathered to celebrate their own at the Leg 5 prizegiving. And following the longest leg in the history of the race, there was plenty to celebrate.
To begin with, how about Ericsson 3? The Nordic crew, overwhelmingly composed of race rookies, and led by the irrepressible Magnus Olsson, won Leg 5 after starting hours behind the rest of the fleet.
Thanks to a bold call by navigator Aksel Magdahl, Ericsson 3 was able to build an astonishing lead about a third of the way into the six week leg. The team was then able to fend off any and all challengers to earn their first win of the Volvo Ocean Race.
No team has looked as thrilled as the Ericsson 3 crew when they were called on stage at the end of the evening to collect their prize for winning Leg 5. "We're really not that good," Olsson said modestly as his crew linked arms and jumped up and down. "But we have enormous team spirit."
In fact, Ericsson 3 had reason to celebrate all night long. Earlier, Media Crew Member Gustav Morin was awarded the Inmarsat Media Prize by Chris McLaughlin, Vice President External Affairs, Inmarsat. Having previously been nominated twice for the prize on earlier legs, Morin was a deserving winner.
"The HDTV footage is capturing the imagination of the general public and is generating an increasingly large and loyal race following around the globe," McLaughlin said. "The success and performance of FleetBroadband during this race will, I believe, dramatically change how international sailing events are marketed from here on."
Ericsson 3 also won their second consecutive 24-hour run award. This time, the team raced 547 miles in one day, an average speed of nearly 23 knots.
The Ericsson Racing Team remained front and centre for most of the evening. Not only did Ericsson 4 finish the leg in second place, but her total elapsed time between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn was the best in the fleet, which earned skipper Torben Grael and his crew the Roaring Forties award.
Finally, David Vera, from Telefonica Blue, broke into the what was beginning to seem like the Ericsson prizegiving, when he earned the Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award, for his efforts in saving the mast on the Blue boat after the forestay broke.
Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, extended his thanks to all of those in Rio who have worked to make the stopover such a success, including the city of Rio, Brasil 1, Light, the Marina da Gloria, and the Brazilian Navy.
In contrast to the prizegiving in Qingdao, where postponements to the In-Port race meant the sailors had to report for duty the next day, here in Rio, most of the teams gave their sailors Monday morning off. The tone - and length - of the party was adjusted accordingly.
Leg Five prizes
Best 24 hour run - Ericsson 3, 547 miles
Inmarsat Media Prize - Gustav Morin, Ericsson 3
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award - David Vera, Telefonica Blue
Roaring 40s award - Ericsson 4
Leg Five, 3rd place - PUMA
Leg Five, 2nd place - Ericsson 4
Leg Five, 1st place - Ericsson 3