Monday, 8 December 2008

Green Dragon finishes in Cape Town

by Volvo Ocean Race media

At 0712 GMT (0912 local time) today, 3rd November, Green Dragon crossed the finish line in Cape Town. She is the fourth boat to finish leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race, which was won by Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA).

After being at sea for 22 days, 19 hours, 12 minutes and 35 seconds (22:19:12:35), skipper Ian Walker said, “It is definitely good to be here. The first 10 days of this leg were easy and then it got tight and tactical with four or five race leaders right across the leg. Obviously, we were very happy coming first at the gate and the boys did a great job. Waking up this morning and seeing Table Mountain was a great feeling.”

Ian Moore – navigator added, “I’ve done this leg of the Volvo before, but it did seem that this leg was windier but easier, but it still seems like a very long way. I honestly love being back in Cape Town, it is a very special place. We saw the outline of the mountain at dawn, with the lion’s head, and we always have a fantastic warm welcome here, there is a special atmosphere. It was an exciting finish to the leg and I am pleased with what we have done. “

It has been a harsh opening leg for first-timer Ian Walker. The team found itself parked for hours off Gibraltar and the good lead they built up was lost when PUMA and Telefónica Black sailed right up to them in the dying breeze. In the approach to the Cape Verde island, Walker played his Stealth card, secretly sailing Green Dragon straight though the middle of the islands, but emerging still in fourth place.

Fortunes turned on day eight and the Dragons, now positioned to the west, came storming up through the fleet. Navigator Ian Moore had a smile on his face at last. “I guess we will know in the next 24 hours if our strategy paid off, “Moore wrote. “If not, the boys will be very dark.”

Third place was good enough as the team contended with the vagaries of the Doldrums on day nine, but the next day saw them atop the leaderboard, a lead they held until after passing through the mid-leg scoring gate. But, their position was under attack and, on day 14, Telefónica Black snatched the lead. There were just two miles between them, and PUMA was just three nm astern. “We are going to fight tooth and nail,” wrote Walker.

As the fleet geared up for the 40-knot gale and the sleigh ride to Cape Town, Walker predicted that the boats which did not keep up with the pace, would drop off the back of the weather system and lose hundreds of miles. “It’s our job not to let that happen to us,” he said. On day 18, Green Dragon was in third place, and the most southerly yacht in the fleet. For an hour, the boat averaged 25 knots. “Clearly, doing this for 24-hours (to chase the record) is another thing altogether and we are on the edge,” he said.

Then, the Dragon was wounded, burying her bow so hard that the spinnaker came back and stove in the pulpit and forward stanchions before ripping to pieces. This was followed by a deafening crunch as the boat hit something and came to almost a complete standstill. “I don’t really know where to start as the last 24-hours have been so incident-packed,” wrote Walker in his daily blog. As they reached the latitude of 35 degrees south, another spinnaker was shredded as the crew pressed the boat in attempt to catch Ericsson 3. But to no avail. Ericsson eventually finished 27 mm ahead of the Dragons after a long fight.

“There is only one thing for it in Cape Town and that is to get in the bar and trade some war stories as sailors love to do. My story will be of our night time collision and the ensuing panic-stricken thoughts, and of a multitude of nosedives form which I saw no escape,” Walker said today as the team approached the finish line.

The next boat to finish will be Telefónica Blue at around midday GMT today.

Leg One Finishing Order into Cape Town
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA)
2. PUMA USA (Ken Read/USA)
3. Ericsson 4 SWE (Anders Lewander/SWE)
4. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR)

Overall Leaderboard (Provisional)
1. Ericsson 4: 14 points (FINISHED)
2. PUMA : 13 points (FINISHED)
3. Green Dragon: 11 points (FINISHED)
4. Telefónica Blue: 6 points (RACING)
5. Telefónica Black: 6 points (RACING)
6. Ericsson 3: 5 points (FINISHED)
7. Delta Lloyd: 2 points (RACING)
8. Team Russia: 1 point (RACING)

Volvo Ocean Race

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