Telefonica dominate Volvo Ocean Race

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The Independent Online

A first and a third for Bouwe Bekking in Telefonica Blue reinforced Spain’s growing dominance of the inshore stages of the Volvo race yesterday as sistership Telefonica Black scored a second and a fourth.

There was also a first win for the American Kenny Read’s Puma to celebrate, but what was a festival ashore was rather spoiled by two last places for the Irish boat, Green Dragon.

Skipper Ian Walker had tried to be upbeat about the training sessions, but he has lacked a speed advantage ever since the race left Alicante in October last year and just does not have the cash to upgrade, develop or even buy new sails. Even rolling the tactical dice produced nothing.

It was not the performance the Dragons had wanted to reward the fervent support that has transformed the mood of Galway ever since they arrived at their home port a week ago. Then, even at four in the morning, thousands waited to cheer their best result of the race so far, third on the transatlantic run from Boston, All week there has been a stream of politicians making the pilgrimage of public approval as part of their European parliament campaign trail.

Listen to Stuart Alexander in Galway.

The battle for second place overall between Puma and T Blue remains locked is now one points, the tie-break system favouring the second inshore race result. After their second place on the run from Boston the mood remains upbeat on Puma with three more legs and one more inshore race to go before the final fireworks in St. Petersberg.

The overall leader, Sweden’s Ericsson 4, skippered by five times Brazilian Olympic medallist Torben Grael, will have to do something catastrophic to lose, but a fourth and a fifth in Galway Bay was not going to improve his mood, especially as his stablemate, the 60-year old Magnus Olsson, took Ericsson 3 to second place in the second race.

The weather was better than forecast but still tricky on a track which saw the early breeze die and swing to a new direction, requiring some nimble footwork by the race officer, Bill O’Hara. The big spectator fleet those watching on big screens ashore didn’t really care. They were enjoying the bank holiday weekend party.

The next 1,000-miler up the Channel and North Sea to Marstrand, Sweden, starts next Saturday with the Telefonica boats believing the conditions will suit them.

VOLVO OCEAN RACE: Overall standings (after seven legs);

1; Ericsson 4 (T Grael), 94 pts: 2, Telefonica Blue (B Bekking) 81; 3, Puma (K Read) 80 ; 4, Ericsson 3 (M Olsson) 62.5; 5, Green Dragon (I Walker) 53; 6, Telefonica Black (F Echevarri) 39; 7, Delta Lloyd (R Bermudez) 31.