Thursday, 19 March 2009

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 32 QFB: received 17.03.09 1426 GMT

Guo Chuan (CHI) and Justin Slattery (IRE) on 17th March. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

It must be fate that the Green Dragon, a project born out of Ireland, has reached the most famous sailing landmark of them all on Ireland's National Day. The crew of Green Dragon would like to wish everyone a very Happy St Patrick's Day from Cape Horn!

It is morning here and we still have 175 miles to go but we will be rounding the Cape at nightfall on St Patricks Day. I say 'rounding' loosely as we are in for a hard time. The forecast is for 40 knots and we will have to stand off the Cape to avoid the worst wind and waves. This will cost us an hour or 2 in the race which is frustrating but Cape Horn is no place to be cutting corners in rough weather.

Right now we are approaching 57 degrees South, the furthest we have been South all race. Conditions onboard are miserably cold and damp. The air and water temperature is about 7 degrees, it is 25 knots and everything onboard is a struggle. Nothing is more of a struggle than getting out of a warm sleeping bag, putting on cold, wet thermals and standing your watch on deck for 4 hours in the freezing cold.

This is a good time for me to reflect on my fantastic crew and their total commitment to the cause. Not once has anybody shirked a watch, even when ill, nor has anyone not done what has been asked of them by Neal (Neal McDonald), Damian (Damien Foxall) or I. Each would put their body on the line to help another and each wants nothing more than for the Green Dragon to succeed.

Thank you guys, I owe you a lot.

With deteriorating weather the next 24 hours seems like it may be our biggest challenge yet. I have dreamt about rounding Cape Horn since I was a little boy and this is the moment. I wish it was going to be a nice sunny day and we could go in close to the rocks and take lots of footage and photos, but sadly it will be windy, rough and dark. Cape Horn is going to give us something to remember it by. Any celebrations will be put on hold until first light tomorrow when I am pleased to say we will be round the Cape and pointing at the Emerald Isle for the first time since we left Cork in August. Happy St Patrick's Day and see you all in Galway in May!!

Volvo Ocean Race

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