Saturday, 14 February 2009
Three boats have so far set off on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Ian Walker
It was with a heavy heart that I left Qingdao today. It was not the most romantic of Valentine’s Days to jump on a boat, say goodbye and abandon my wife and children for 40 days. We have all the adventure and our families have all the worry.
It was hard to leave our new friends in Qingdao too. The stopover has been fantastic with excellent facilities and super-kind people. Nothing was too much trouble in China and it has been good fun to meet our Chinese sponsors and supporters. It was very satisfying to see how enthusiastic all the Chinese people are to Irish food, music and dancing in our hospitality marquee. I hope some of them make the trip to Galway. I will definitely be visiting China again and hope to see a bit further afield. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the Volvo Ocean Race. No sooner have you arrived somewhere and got comfortable, than it is time to leave again. There is seldom time to explore.
It has been a slow start to this leg but already there is drama with the late arrival of Ericsson 3 and the suspension of racing by Telefónica Blue. I am sure both boats will be back in the race and fighting with the leaders by the doldrums - we are certainly not getting away from them too fast. In the first three hours we have managed to sail nine miles. At this rate we will take six months to get to Rio!
Spare a thought for our newest crew member Chris Main. He flew in on Thursday and has never stepped on a Volvo 70 before today - his first sail will be a 12,300 mile trip including the infamous Cape Horn - I hope he likes it and doesn't want to get off. We will miss Anthony Merrington (Youngster) who is injured as he is one of our best drivers and most experienced trimmers.
Also spare a thought for our shore crew who have worked tirelessly since we arrived from Singapore, often in freezing conditions. I am sure they will have a good party now that we have left - you know what? Lads (and lasses) - you deserve it - thank you.
Volvo Ocean Race