Ericsson 4 –DFT 740
Ericsson 4, not for the first time on this leg, have given the fleet the slip, making gains in the wind treacle of the Doldrums courtesy of a rain shower. By the 16:00 GMT Position Report, their advantage over their Nordic cousins on E3, hovering under 10 miles for the past few days, was out to 49.
The intensity is also palpable on Telefonica Blue, according to skipper Bouwe Bekking. "We are in the Doldrums, big towering clouds are everywhere around us and we are trying to find our best way through it," he said. "We are sweating and working hard to squeeze everything out of our boat." Aksel Magdahl, Ericsson 3’s navigator, thought he had the tactical bases covered overnight, before Grael’s men stole a march. The strategy, he reasoned, was to protect the east for the Doldrums crossing by lining up in their stablemate’s wake, along with PUMA. When daylight broke, so did Grael. ”We were all close, with E4 a few miles ahead and PUMA a few miles behind. E4 disappeared into a solid rain shower, and two position reports later they are now 30 miles ahead of us,” he said.
Torben Grael’s men still have over 100 miles to travel before they are out of the mire and just under 800 to Cochin. The rest of the pack, split east-west across the course, are arm wrestling in under two knots of flukey breeze. Bunching up behind E3 and occupying the middle ground are Green Dragon (+58) and PUMA (+66) while Delta Lloyd (+73) have jumped Telefonica Blue (+77), the furthest west of the pack.
Team Russia (+105), gambling on the eastern flank, have outgunned Telefonica Black (+128) who, like their sistership, are nursing a broken daggerboard. The road ahead is paved with potholes, according to Kosatka skipper, Andreas Hanakamp. “The future looks grim, endless calms spreading all over the Northern Indian Ocean,” he said. “The sailing is very intense as the boat requires a lot of attention to squeeze every possible knot out of the light winds.”