Ericsson 4 wins first Volvo Ocean Race Leg

Ericsson 4 wins leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race, crossing the finish line at 05.54 GMT
At 05:54 GMT or 07:54am local time, Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael, drifted across the finish line off Cape Town to win Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Although the last miles were faster than first expected, the final couple of hundred metres were a challenge. With the finish line just hundreds of metres in the distance, the wind died, and Ericsson 4 was becalmed for a few minutes, before sniffing out a little zephyr of breeze to get across the line.

With the win on Leg One, Ericsson 4 will pick up eight points, to climb to the top of the table with 14 scoring points accumulated so far in the race.

At the 04:00 GMT position report, the team had just 18 miles to run and was making over 20 knots of boat speed.

Media crewman Guy Salter wrote overnight: 'The feeling onboard is different as we know we are getting near the end of our separation from the outside world. People have been busy preparing job lists and tidying the boat up after the 'hanging on mode' of mid-week’s fast and furious ride.

Ericsson 4 wins leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race into Cape Town

'Lots of the boys have been catching up what they can with rest - we know that the last 150 miles of this leg will probably be some of the toughest as the breeze gets lighter and less predictable the closer to land we get.'

That is the normal finishing procedure in Cape Town – fast ride in followed by very light, shifty winds in the Bay. But there is breeze this morning and the boat appears to be moving well.

Behind Ericsson 4, PUMA is also tracking well for the finish, nearly 120 miles in arrears.

The battle still rages for third place, but emerging from StealthPlay, Ericsson 3 certainly looks to have the advantage over Green Dragon this morning. The Nordic crew is nearly 30 miles ahead of the Dragons, a number which wouldn’t seem like much in the middle of the leg but looms large with just over 300 miles to go.

There is one boat in StealthPlay this morning. Team Russia opted to ‘go dark’ beginning with the 04:00 position report. They won’t emerge until 13:00 today.

Ericsson 4 on the dockside in Cape Town

Torben Grael – skipper

We had everything. We had a wonderful journey, very rough weather for a couple of days with a lot of speed. I am very, very happy with everything we achieved.

We had PUMA on visual for 70 per cent of the race. It is amazing. I was very glad we were ahead of them at the scoring gate and here at the finish.

It feels great to win. We are happy that the finish wasn’t very painful. When we arrived here with Brasil1, we were 12 hours waiting outside without any wind. It was very good to have just a little bit of wind at the end and not stop before crossing the finish line.

The teamwork was marvellous, not only onboard, but as a whole team. The shore team too. Onboard it a little harder with one man down, a little bit of extra work for everybody, but everyone gave it best, and here we are.

Jules Salter – navigator

It’s good to be here; it’s always good to be in Cape Town
It was an eventful race, so many things going on; I really can’t remember most of it. We had a good lead after 24 hours, but that disappeared, then we had to evacuate Tony.

It was great to be in the lead from the very beginning.

I can’t wait to kick a football around a field.

The next position report will be issued at 1300 GMT or as soon as the next boat finishes, whichever is the sooner. Positions are available every three hours on www.volvooceanrace.org. Click on RESULTS at the top of the page to go straight to the points table and onboard data.