Sunday, 29 March 2009

VOR: Wouter Verbraak says it's been 'Epic' on Green Dragon

Chris Main making the most of his rations, on board Green Dragon, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Wouter Verbraak (navigator)

"Land ahoy!" With beards and personal hygiene not far from our pirate ancestors, our existence on the boat has become pretty primal. The smell of land is in the air, and after more than six weeks at sea we can`t wait to get ashore.

25 miles to go is just a tiny drip in the ocean after more than 12000NM. The cold of China is but a small memory, and passing through the islands of Fiji seems ages ago.

It has been an epic leg in all the different ways you can look at it. This ocean marathon leg has been gruelling, frustrating, exciting and the best sailing I have ever done. Would I want to do it again? Not tomorrow or the next week, but in a while? For sure.

Nowhere do you find the emotional contrasts following each other so quickly and so extreme. Blasting down big waves through pitch black stormy nights hoping the boat keeps in one piece and eating your hat out of frustration in light and fickle winds with the competition spearing away. It is all part of the game that we love so much and into which we pour our whole lives.

Sure we have had some hard times. You bet! It is hard to see the fleet make gain after gain after falling off a weather system, and with nothing to do about it.

It is tough to run out of food and be low on energy and trying to motivate yourself to keep pushing, but we did, the whole way, every single mile. Something to be proud of for sure!

Highlights of the leg include the Rounding of Cape Horn and the big gains on the fleet after good strategic choices before Fiji and Cape Horn. With the competition a good five to ten percent faster, the Green Dragon team is clearly pulling the short end of the rope, but through hard work and determination we manage to hang in there and beat some of them. A great achievement for this team with half the budget and time of the big teams. We are punching way above our weight here that is clear.

Now Rio is here, and we are all looking forward to have some solid ground under our feet, have a shower, have some real food and get into a proper bed. Most of all it will be great to see our shore crew, friends and family and share our experiences with the other teams before getting ready for the next legs.

There is still a lot of ocean between here and the finish in St. Petersburg, and it will take all our determination, imagination and creativity to keep finding clever ways to get there ahead of the big guys and keep earning those precious points to climb the ladder in the standings.

Still half of the points are on the table, so we keep on fighting, you can bet on that!

Volvo Ocean Race

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