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.