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SAILING

Swedish boat sets 24-hour record in Volvo Ocean Race

Sweden's Ericsson 4 has broken the world 24-hours distance record for a monohull yacht during the Volvo Ocean Race around the world which departed from Spain earlier this month, organizers said Wednesday.

The boat, which leads the first stage of the race between Alicante and Cape Town in South Africa, traveled some 585 miles (1,080 kilometres) in the South Atlantic in the 24-hour period that ended at 0700 GMT.

That shattered the previous record of 562.97 miles set in January 2006 by ABN Amro 2, which was skippered by France’s Sebastien Josse, in the Indian Ocean during the previous edition of the Volvo race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Brazil’s Torben Grael, was about 30 miles ahead of Puma Racing of the United States, some 1,800 miles from Cape Town where the eight boats taking part in the race are expected to arrive on Sunday or Monday.

The boat, a favourite to win the race, was navigating at a speed of over 26 knots. It faced a low pressure system with winds of over 35 knots and maximum wave heights of seven metres (23 feet).

Organizers did not rule out the possibility that another record could be set on Wednesday, either by Ericsson 4 or one of the other boats taking part in the race.

Chinese-Irish entry Green Dragon was in third place while Sweden’s second entry in the race, Ericsson 3, was in fourth place.

The finish line in the race of 37,000 nautical miles is in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the teams are expected in June 2009.

VOLVO

British sailor on verge of Gothenburg double

Briton Ian Walker aims to complete a rare Volvo Ocean Race double on Saturday as the biggest yachting race in the world finally reaches its climax in the Swedish port of Gothenburg.

British sailor on verge of Gothenburg double
British sailor Ian Walker. Photo: TT
Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing already claimed the overall, offshore trophy, the main event of the nine-month, 38,739-nautical mile offshore marathon, in Gothenburg on Monday.
 
His team are also six points ahead in the in-port series that has been held in the 10 ports hosting the triennial event since it started in Alicante, Spain, on October 4th last year.
 
Anything other than a failure to finish or last place in the seven-strong fleet coupled with a victory for closest rivals, Team Brunel (Netherlands), in Saturday's Gothenburg race will see the Emirati-backed crew over the line as in-port champions.
 
Brunel were also second to Abu Dhabi in the offshore race.
 
The offshore and in-port double is not unique in Volvo Ocean Race history — Mike Sanderson's ABN AMRO ONE achieved it in 2005-06 — but victory would be another major feather in the cap for a region which only entered the 41-year-old event for the first time in 2011-12 under the Abu Dhabi flag.
 

The Volvo race ends in Gothenburg this weekend. Photo: TT
 
Walker, 45, was taking nothing for granted in the nine-month race's final press conference on Friday.
 
“We try to win everything we do,” he said. “Basically, we just have to make sure we don't finish last.
 
“But it's a pretty tight race course and there's plenty of trouble out there if you're not careful.”
 
Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking, 52, could be forgiven for being sick of the sight of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's stern after trying to catch it over 38,739 nautical miles and nine offshore legs.
 
However, he has not totally given up hope of an upset result that will rely on his opponents slipping up uncharacteristically badly.
 
“We will fight for it and we still have a slight chance,” he told reporters. “It would certainly be nice to win that trophy.”
 
The action will start at 2pm local time (12pm GMT) and so far the forecasters are predicting strong enough winds to offer the prospect of a fitting finale to the memorable and extraordinarily close-run global event.