Friday, 20 March 2009

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 34 QFB: received 19.03.09 1652 GMT

Route of the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race, copyright Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

Before my grandfather passed away he gave my mother some handwritten letters written by her grandfather when he was shipwrecked on the Falkland Islands as a boy, probably around 100 years ago.

I keep copies of these letters and from time to time I read about how he had to swim ashore as the ship went down close to shore. Well this morning at first light we had to tack to pass around the northern edge of the Falklands and I found myself dodging the unmarked reefs.

Every mile we had to sail on starboard tack to clear the island was a mile lost to the opposition as we needed to head east. Wouter (Wouter Verbraak) and I checked the chart and found a very tenuous passage inside some islands and through some reefs that would cut 10 miles off our course. Wouter was very confident in the accuracy of the charts ('the British Navy would have surveyed every inch of these islands') and after consulting with Damian (Damian Foxall) and Neal (Neal McDonald) we decided to take it on.

I have to admit the thought of explaining how a second member of the family had become shipwrecked on the Falklands had crossed my mind but, with some short tacks and some weaving, we safely found our way through. Well done Wouter - I never doubted you!

The Falkland Islands look to be a wild and inhospitable place with drizzle, strong winds and grey skies (and this is summer here) but there is a wild attraction to the place, not unlike the west coast of Scotland.

On the race course still we lose miles to the opposition as they sail in a more lifted breeze ahead of us, but I am confident our time will come if we can keep some pressure on. As I write this blog the breeze is finally starting to lift and we should see our speeds rise. Speed now is crucial to get around the high pressure before it spreads across our path and forces us further off course. Onboard conditions slowly improve and everyone is catching up on sleep. It won't be too long now before the first pair of shorts and T shirts come out.

Volvo Ocean Race

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