Sunday, 8 March 2009
Green Dragon Crew changing sails en route to Rio De Janeiro on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Ian Walker (skipper)
Today is day 23 which equals the longest I have ever been at sea recorded during leg one from Alicante to Cape Town. To put this leg into context, today we also passed the halfway point in direct mileage from Qingdao to Rio.
We never cease to remind ourselves of this fact and how any sort of gear failure could make us late for the in-port race in Rio let alone the restart of leg six. The timetable set by the race organisers is very tight and we always have this balancing act in our minds.
Yesterday was a perfect example of having to keep our heads. We sailed into the centre of a low pressure and got a 90 degree left hand shift which was exactly as we hoped. The problem was that it takes a few hours for the waves to shift round so we were now heading straight into the waves and the boat was leaping around dangerously.
We opted to sail for three hours with a small jib and reefed mainsail in only 16 knots of wind to try and safeguard the structure of the boat but at the cost of precious miles. It is very frustrating having to try and slow down when normally you are trying to go as fast as possible. Slowly, but surely, the waves came round and we have since been averaging more than 20 knots of boatspeed. It feels great to have a spinnaker up and even better to see the miles ticking by. At least there is no more upwind sailing in the short term forecast.
Life onboard has been very wet again, but nobody minds as that means we are going fast. The water is still warm due to our northerly route which is a bonus when it is hitting you in the face at 30 mph. We have had a couple of minor 'impact injuries' from when crew get washed down the deck but nothing that can't be brushed off. Other than that the boat and crew are in fine shape to tackle part two of this mammoth leg.
Yesterday was a special day onboard as it was Damian's (Damian Foxall/IRL) 40th birthday. Unfortunately all he got for his birthday was a bag of chocolate and a face full of sea water all day long. Happy Birthday anyway Damian and I hope you get to celebrate properly in Rio. Let's hope we are not still out here for your 41st.
Volvo Ocean Race