Swedish team celebrates Volvo victory

Brazilian skipper Torben Grael let Ericsson 4's crew take the pressure off for the final leg to St Petersburg.
After nine grueling months, the Volvo Ocean Race has finally come to an end following the 10th and final leg from Stockholm to St Petersburg.

Spanish team Telefonica Black was first to reach the Russian city to take consolation line honors early on Saturday morning, with overall winner Ericsson 4 — which clinched overall victory in the penultimate leg — coming home in fifth place. American outfit Puma Ocean Racing followed Telefonica Black home by just a minute to consolidate second place overall on 105.5 points — nine behind the Swedish victors, helmed by Brazilian Torben Grael. Telefonica Blue came home third to clinch the same position overall, 7.5 points behind Puma and 19.5 ahead of fourth-placed Ericsson 3. Grael said he had mixed feelings after finally completing the 42,500-mile event, which his boat covered in 127 days, 7 hours, 46 minutes and 21 seconds. Could you survive a round-the-world race “I think it is a mixed feeling because we know this is the end of the story for the project,” he told the volvooceanrace.org Web site. “It’s a funny feeling because some of these guys you have never met before and you become like brothers. Now we go our own ways and it’s a strange feeling. “On the other had it has been a long race. It was a very long race around the world. We are completely drained and tired so I think everyone is looking forward to a nice rest.

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“We have had a wonderful time. We enjoyed our training time in Lanzarote and the race as well. We have had our ups and downs, but it has been fun. After we won it was a bit of a relaxing leg. “It has been so intense and so consuming, so I think it is normal that after you achieve your goals you relax. I am very glad for Black and Fernando and his guys for winning this last leg.” It was Spanish skipper Fernando Echavarri’s first victory in the race, with his team finishing sixth overall behind the Chinese-Irish syndicate Green Dragon. Telefonica Black covered the 400-mile course in one day, 12 hours and 41 minutes, reaching the finish line just before 5 a.m. local time after a titanic tussle with Puma. Solo yachtswoman on her grueling sport “It’s a prize for all of the crew, all of the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but couldn’t, this was our last chance,” Echavarri said. “We had a nice battle with PUMA in the last 100 miles. We are really happy. It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot. “Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA and Blue and Ericsson for the last 250 miles. Really close. It has been like a match race. I don’t know how many tacks we have done! “It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job.” The Volvo race began in Alicante in October last year. Its next edition, which also starts in the Spanish port, is scheduled for 2011-12.