STOCKHOLM, Sweden (May 21, 2009) –ﾠ Ericsson 4 last night wrested the lead
on Leg 7 from Telefonica Black and early this morning was making in excess
of 20 knots boatspeed as it hurtled towards Galway, Ireland.
At 0400 GMT Ericsson 4 led the Spanish yacht by 7 nautical miles with 1,357 miles
remaining to the finish. The two lead yachts had opened some breathing room
on the chasing pack, which was more than 20 miles behind the International crew.
Ericsson 4 is expecting a fast ride into Galway,
the result of a strong storm to the north of their position.
“They are on their way into an ocean that is home to the busiest storm track
in the world,” said team meteorologist Chris Bedford.
“The fleet will experience 48 hours of 25- to 35-knot winds
(that's average windspeed) with gusts of 45 to 50 knots.
Seas will grow to near six meters. The further north the boats go, the stronger
the winds and bigger the seas.”Ericsson 4 is the world 24-hour record holder
with a distance of 596 nautical miles. The strong following winds raise
the prospect of a record run, but Bedford cautions against such thinking.
“These windspeeds and sailing angles could be conducive
to setting a 24-hour record, but the sea state will likely
be a limiting factor.Being so close to the end of this race, sailing conservatively
will be very important - especially for Ericsson 4 as it has the most
to lose in terms of race position.”Ericsson 3 has made ground on sixth place
and trailed Green Dragon by 3 miles after being more
than 10 miles back yesterday. But the Nordic crew has some work to do
if it hopes of getting into the top five, which was 16 miles ahead.
VOLVO OCEAN RACE LEG 7 LEADERBOARD
(At 0406 GMT, May 21, 2009)
1.ﾠ Ericsson 4, 1,357 nautical miles to finish
2.ﾠ Telefónica Black, +7 NM
3.ﾠ Telefónica Blue, +22 NM
4.ﾠ Delta Lloyd, +24 NM
4.ﾠ Puma, +24
6.ﾠ Green Dragon, +37 NM
7.ﾠ Ericsson 3, +40 NM