Monday, 2 March 2009

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 16 QFB: received 01.03.09 0915 GMT

by Ian Walker (skipper)

Fiji has been and gone and it is now clear that boats in the east like ourselves and Ericsson 4 did well going east and boats in the west like Telefónica did well going west.

It must have been very difficult for the more central boats to decide what to do and so Ericsson 3 and Puma separated and took different options from being within sight of each other. Amazingly enough it looks as though in a few more hours they are likely to come back together in sight of each other once again. I suspect Puma and Telefónica are very relieved to have got through the gap as cleanly as they could have easily been stuck in no wind so close to land - it was certainly a risky route and I applaud them for taking it on.

We had few choices to make being so far east and felt a little hard done by not to have crossed one or both of the Ericsson boats as they tacked onto starboard. It was certainly on the cards until a big right shift let them across our bow in the last 100 miles. For now it has been great just to feel we are back in the race. It is quite amazing that, after 5000, miles the whole fleet are within 50 miles, or four hours sailing of each other.

We are now heading due south towards New Zealand which is causing some anxiety with the two kiwis onboard. There was already some talk of swimming ashore as we sailed through the islands off the eastern tip of Fiji so we will have to stay out of swimming range of the NZ coast. I have hidden the passports just in case.

I have to say it is a real shame we are not stopping in Auckland. To sail so close and not visit the City of Sails is sacrilege. The New Zealand public love sailing and this race in particular. Hopefully the race organisers will add it back in next time and break up this monster leg.

Back onboard all is well. It is super flat water and medium winds with fast reaching sails up. I cannot remember such a prolonged period where you have not had to hang on with both hands to move around the boat. It is also unusually quiet and with few sail changes it makes for perfect sleeping conditions to recharge the batteries before all that lies ahead.

In the short term that is a difficult transition through light winds into strong South easterly winds, followed in the longer term by the Southern Ocean and Cape Horn. We may have done 5000 miles but this leg has hardly started!

If you are wondering why I am in such a good mood about all this it is because we have found some powdered milk at last so I can now enjoy a nice cup of tea!

Volvo Ocean Race

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