Monday, 9 February 2009

VOR: Abandoned In-Port Race Abandoned Again

In-port racing in the Volvo Ocean Race was postponed for the second time in Qingdao, China today. Although the visibility had improved since yesterday, there was still not enough wind. Image copyright Rick Tomlineon/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Riath Al-Samarrai

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. With that mantra the race committee have confirmed they will persevere with their plans for a Qingdao in-port race until Tuesday afternoon.

On two consecutive days efforts for an inshore battle have been shelved because of unfavourable weather, with light wind and fog scuppering yesterday's attempts and even weaker breezes causing frustration today.

It has forced the Race Committee to impose a two-day deadline on proceedings in order to allow teams enough time to prepare for leg five, which begins on Saturday.

They have ruled that the earliest time for racing is 1030 local time each morning, while no race shall start after 1600. If there has been no racing by 1600 on Tuesday, the in-port race will be cancelled and no points allocated to the four teams.

"We have an obligation to try and get a race happening and the fact that the wind disappears is part of the nature of our sport," said Knut Frostad, the race CEO. "The patience of waiting for the wind is something we are used to. We also need to respect that the sailors need time to prepare for the long leg ahead. If we don't have any in-port racing by Tuesday afternoon we will cancel it."

The forecasts for tomorrow suggest between five and seven knots of breeze will pass through the Olympic Sailing Centre, while Tuesday could see up to nine knots. Each of the skippers have their fingers crossed that a race will be held.

Green Dragon run aground as they try to depart Qingdao harbour. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker said: "For us, we have plenty of people and our sponsors coming to see the Green Dragon so we'd love to be able to race. It is important to race and we hope to get the chance to race.

"Only having four boats here gives us an opportunity to pick up some points on the guys behind."

Telefonica Blue's Iker Martinez sailed in Qingdao during the Olympics and is used to playing the waiting game. He said: "It's not nice for the spectators or for us, we want to race. But we know from the Olympics that there is not always wind here. We have to wait and maybe tomorrow is a good day. Hopefully we can race and have a good race, which is the most important thing. We want to prepare for the long leg and so the waiting is not ideal."

Ericsson 4's Stu Bannatyne added: "The Volvo Ocean Race is a series of legs and in-port races. The same as any other regatta that is held anywhere in the world, if the weather conditions do not allow you get a full schedule of planned races in, then it is not the end of the world, so long as we get enough racing in to get a result.

A large expectant crowd was disappointed, as racing was postponed for a second time on Sunday in Qingdao. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

"We should not compromise the quality of the racing just to get the quantity of racing. We have plenty of racing so we do not need to compromise the quality. Overall, the concept of the Volvo is to have a schedule of fair in-port and offshore racing, let us hope that we can have that."

Volvo Ocean Race

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