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Race for fourth this morning

1st December 2008

The absence of a boom may be a deciding factor in the race for fourth this morning off Kochi. Green Dragon, PUMA and Delta Lloyd are caught in a tight battle. With just 70+ miles remaining, Green Dragon is sixth, one mile behind Ger O'Rourke's Delta Lloyd and PUMA. Ericsson 3 look set to take third spot they are currently 26 miles from the finish line.

Ericsson 3 crossed the finish line off Cochin at 07:36 GMT (13:00 local time) to earn third place in leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race. The team will earn six points, taking them to 14.5 points overall. That's good enough for a short-term hold on third place. But as the boats behind finish, Ericsson 3 will slide down the table. How far they slide will depend upon the finishing order of the chasing pack.

We'll have full reaction from dockside shortly.

06:00 GMT update

Ericsson 3 looks set to fill out the podium this morning as they had just 26 miles to run on the 04:00 GMT report. If they hold that position, it will be a great result for Anders Lewander and his crew, sailing for the first time in this race without the threat of a measurement penalty looming over their heads. They'll be allowed to keep each of the six points they're due for a third place result and depending on what happens behind them, this will move them up the points table.

How much is anybody's guess, because there is a heck of race on for fourth place. Incredibly, four boats are involved in this slow-motion dance towards the finish line, although one - Telefonica Black - is in StealthPlay, making it difficult to fully assess what's happening.

Here's what we know. On the 22:00 GMT position poll last night, the last report on which Telefonica Black appeared, just five miles - on distance to finish - separated PUMA in fourth, from Telefonica Black in seventh place. The boats were arranged in a diamond shape, with PUMA at the top, furthest north, and Telefonica Black about six miles to the south. On the flanks, Green Dragon was furthest offshore to the west, with Delta Lloyd about 12 miles further in to the east.

Since then, we know that Green Dragon has stayed offshore, while Delta Lloyd and PUMA are separated by a whisker inshore, about 10 miles to the east. Unknown is whether Telefonica Black has gone with Green Dragon, or the other pair.

At 04:00, just one mile - on distance to finish - separated PUMA, Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon. The difference between finishing fourth and seventh is dramatic in terms of scoring points. Five points go to the fourth place finisher while seventh place earns just two points. Team Russia, meanwhile, languishes over 500 miles from Cochin.

Just being in the mix for this finish represents a phenomenal achievement for Telefonica Black, who were nearly 40 miles behind PUMA 24 hours ago. The lighter conditions seem to favour both Telefonica boats and Telefonica Black is sailing in her sweet spot.

PUMA, being furthest north, is in pole position, and constantly being pushed by Delta Lloyd, who are sailing very close behind on her windward hip. Green Dragon would appear to have a big task ahead, if they are hoping to sail around the outside of the other pair. And now, Green Dragon has requested to go into StealthPlay beginning on the 07:00 GMT report. She'll reappear at 16:00 GMT, or more likely on the first position report that shows here distance to finish as being less than 50 miles.

We'll have full coverage of the finishes during the day ahead, as well as the final TEN ZULU report for leg two by Mark Chisnell. Enjoy the action.

Afloat.ie Team

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