Ericsson 4 först i mål!

"Updated at Sunday 2 November 2008 07:00 GMT

It's a win for Torben Grael and the international crew on Ericsson 4 in Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race. The team eased across the finish line at 05:54 GMT, on a bright, sunny morning in Cape Town.

The wind was light, and the final few hundred metres took longer than expected, but the result is the same - a Leg One victory as well as a new (still to be ratified) 24-hour distance record.

The leg victory is worth eight points, and this vaults Grael's crew to the top of the leaderboard with 14 points.

On stepping ashore, Grael said: "It's really fantastic to be here. It was a great trip with lots of speed and I am very happy with what we have achieved. I think we had PUMA in sight for about 70 per cent of the race and I am very glad that we were ahead at the scoring gate and at the finish. It feels great to win."

Navigator Jules Salter added, "It's really good to be here. It is always good to be in Cape Town. It was an eventful race; I really can't remember most of it, but it feels really great to be in the lead from the very beginning."

Look for Mark Chisnell's regular TEN ZULU report later this morning, as well as full coverage of the Ericsson 4 arrival and celebration by Riath Al-Samarrai.

06:00 GMT

At 05:54 GMT or 07:54 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.

Flash quotes from the boat will follow shortly.

04:30 GMT

Ericsson 4 is closing down the miles to the finish line off the busy Waterfront area of Cape Town. On the 04:00 GMT position report, the team had just 18 miles to run and was making over 20 knots of boat speed. This could be the final hour of Leg One for the race leader.

Already, overnight, the mood on board was best described as ‘finish mode' as media crew member Guy Salter wrote:

"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.

"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.

Stay tuned for all the coverage of the finish."


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