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Swedish yacht wins second leg of Volvo yacht race

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12:02 CET+01:00
Sweden's Ericsson 4 won the second leg of the around the world Volvo Ocean Race on Sunday morning, cruising into India's Kochi port three days ahead of schedule.

The monohull yacht, skippered by Brazilian Olympic gold medallist Torben Grael, reached the south-western port an estimated 12 hours ahead of nearest rival Telefonica Blue.

Ericsson 4, which had also won the first leg into Cape Town on November 1st, was due in on Wednesday and now leads the eight-yacht race with 26 points as its rivals play catch-up.

Spain's Telefonica Blue was 90 nautical miles behind, and Ericsson 3 a further 85 miles at 1am GMT.

Due to the risk of piracy off the coast of Somalia race organizers re-routed the yachts away from the coast of Africa and the teams were given instructions how to deal with the event of a pirate attack.

The threat, although unrealized, posed an added hazard for the yachts as they completed the second leg of the gruelling around-the-world race and the Swedish team were relieved to reach India.

"Everybody is very happy," said Grael after his yacht finished the 14-day journey from Cape Town at 4.30am Indian local time (11pm GMT Saturday).

"It was a very tough leg with so many different conditions."

Grael and his crew were made to wait painfully for the finish line, taking almost nine hours to complete the final 65 nautical miles to Kochi.

Grael, however, declined to take victory for granted.

"It is just the start of the race, and there are some difficult legs ahead of us," he said.

"A lot of unexpected things can happen, but it is good to be in the position we are in."

Race organisers held a low-key welcome to the leaders as a mark of respect to the victims of the deadly Mumbai attacks in which at least 195 people were killed.

Each of the yachts receive points according to their position in each of the 10 legs. Half-points are also awarded at six scoring gates along the route and for the seven 'in-port' races.

During the last five editions of the event, the winner of the first stage went on to win the race.

The eight yachts representing seven nations set out from the Spanish port of Alicante, Spain on October 11 for the 10th edition of one of sport's most gruelling and hazardous events.

After India, teams head through ports including Singapore, Qingdao and Rio de Janeiro before ending the 37,000 nautical miles (68,000 kilometres) race in Saint Petersburg in June 2009.

The teams depart for Singapore on December 13th.

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