Principal Correspondent

KOCHI: As the Ericsson3 neared Kochi, hundreds of tiny fishing boats cheered the yacht on its way to the third place in the Volvo Ocean Race’s second leg here on Monday evening.

“That was a wonderful welcome to India,” said Anders Lewander, the skipper, after bringing the boat home nearly 33 hours after his sister ship Ericsson4 touched in to take the honours.

It also pushed away the disappointment of the Sweden-based team which was running second for a good part of the second leg which began in Cape Town, 4,450 nautical miles away.

“Call it the difficult clouds, the clouds in the doldrums,” said the 45-year-old from Stockholm about the reason for his boat slowing down. Damage to the radar, when it was pulled off the mast, moments after the start of the second leg, also forced the team to sail the leg without the sighting device.

The Ericsson twins were very close to each other at one stage after leaving Cape Town. “They were two miles in front of us. We could have thrown a stone at them,” said the boat’s watch captain Richard Mason, who was competing in his third Volvo Race. “One cloud formed up and we got stuck. And two miles became 50 miles.” Ericsson took 9.5 points from the leg.

Not over yet

“But the race is not over yet,” said captain Lewander who heads an all-Nordic crew. “We know how we can go forward. I have great confidence in the team.”

A few hours later, Telefonica Black finished fourth, after fighting off a stiff challenge from Puma Ocean Racing and Delta Lloyd.

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