Spain's Telefonica Blue wins third stage of Ocean Volvo Race

SINGAPORE -- Spain's Telefonica Blue won the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race late Monday, closing the gap on overall leader Ericsson 4 of Sweden during the 1,950 nautical miles from Kochi, India, to Singapore.

U.S. team Puma Ocean Racing arrived second. It was 1 minute, 47 seconds, ahead of Sweden's Ericsson 3, which beat Ericsson 4, skippered by five-time Olympic medalist Torben Grael of Brazil, by 40 seconds after more than nine days of racing.

"We had all the excitement in the last 50 miles, dodging fishing nets, zigzagging around tugboats, hundreds of commercial ships," said Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking, who crossed the finish line about 17 minutes before Puma. "But we pulled it off and all the guys did a marvelous job. We couldn't have wished for a better Christmas present."

The tight race pushed the crews to the limit, with sleep and food in short supply the last 48 hours of the race.

"Most of us don't remember when we last slept or ate," Puma skipper Kenny Read said. "Never done anything like that before."

The teams are scheduled to leave Singapore on Jan. 18 for Qingdao, China, on the fourth stage of the around-the-world race.

The Volvo Ocean race started in Alicante, Spain, and ends in June at St. Petersburg, Russia, after 10 legs and six in-port regattas.