VOLVO Ocean Race Start Leg Six: On To Boston!

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IApril 13, 2009

It is back out on high seas again as the Volvo Ocean Race started the 4,900 nautical mile leg six to Boston, USA.

A light, southwest sea breeze permitted the fleet to make a clean start in the Guanabara Bay.

Skipper Torben Grael of Ericsson 4 made a slow start but was determined to be where there was more breeze and less current on the right hand side of the course.  Sailing close in to the shore, at one point heading towards a rather alarmed spectator fleet, as Ericsson 4 started to make steady gains up through the fleet.

Off the famous Copacabana beach Telefónica Black led the fleet to the first mark. Telefónica Black continued to sail impressively and opened up a big lead on the rest of the fleet in the loop towards the start line

The lead would prove to be short lived as their bowman, Mike Pammenter, had to be taken off the racing yacht by a support boat after injuring his ankle. The accident happened when, during a maneuver, Pammenter’s foot became entangled in the genoa sheet, which then flicked him into the mast. 

The fleet of seven has been trying to make headway in very light wind, edging to within one mile of the Brazilian shoreline.  The breeze has stayed out of the north at around three to four knots so the competitors are keeping close to the shore hoping for more land breeze.  “The latest seven day forecast does not look promising,” noted Roger Nilson, the Swedish navigator onboard Telefónica Black. 

Since the start the fleet hasn’t even covered a hundred miles and the boats were all still within 10 miles of each other.  Boats speeds range from only three knots for current leader Telefónica Blue to a paltry 0.5 knots for Delta Lloyd, which is bringing up the rear.  Green Dragon is in second place just two miles behind the blue bloat.  PUMA is still in third place with Ericsson 4 on her hip with Ericsson 3 a mile back.

There is one mid-leg scoring gate opportunity on this leg, set at Fernando de Noronha, before the fleet arrives in Boston on or around 27 April.

Photo Courtesy Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race