Sunday, 10 May 2009
Start of race one of the Boston In-Port race. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Volvo Ocean Race media with some additions from SailRaceWin
The weather forecast is in for Saturday and it makes for ugly reading - light winds are expected this afternoon, somewhere in the 4 to 8 knot range. But the Race Committee is expecting a stable wind direction, making them more optimistice we'll be able to get in racing today.
The poor forecast hasn't dampened enthusiasm at the Fan Pier race village. There are some special guests in town, including the King of Sweden along with several hundred scouts.
Some of the best French offshore sailors are here to see what the Volvo Ocean Race is all about, with the winner of the last Vendee Globe, Michel Desjoyeaux, among them. He's scheduled to sail as a guest on Telefonica Blue today.
Mike Sanderson the winning skipper of the last Volvo Ocean Race is here, as is Paul Cayard, who won the Whitbread Ocean Race in 1997. So there is no shortage of sailing talent gathered here in Boston to watch the in-port race... No pressure on the lads then!
Green Dragon and Ericsson 3 get entangled just after the top mark in race one. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Mark Chisnell
Saturday's In-Port Race will see seven Volvo Open 70s go at it, swinging punches like Manny Pacquiao on a tight, difficult race track. The course will be set up just off Winthrop Beach, on Boston's outer harbour at Broad Sound. It's the usual format of two races per day, conditions permitting, with two laps per race and a target time of 50 minutes per race.
The course is a windward-leeward ‘sausage' with a mid-leg gate (see here for more details on the in-port race) and it's provided some great racing all the way round the world. There's no reason why today should be any different. One other thing that's worth pointing out is that the fleet will use what's called Addendum Q, which allows on-the-water umpires to call penalty turns for the boats if there are rule infringements. So if you see anyone sailing around in a circle, that's the likely reason.
Race Forecaster, Matt Sanders' latest analysis of the weather describes a difficult day, with a low pressure forming over the Great Lakes and headed east, but not, sadly, in time to provide any breeze for today's racing.
The grey skies and showers that greeted the early birds at the race village came courtesy of a slight warm front moving across southern New England. Its probable impact will be to soften the pleasant, ten knot southerly wind we have at the time of writing. The forecast says it will drop down to around five knots, while shifting towards the east - although the resulting breeze is probably more accurately described as light and variable.
Unfortunately, that means that our best chance of wind over five knots may rely on clearing skies, sunshine and the thermal effect to get a light south-easterly sea breeze blowing by early to mid-afternoon. But, at best, Matt Sanders wasn't expecting this to get over 10 knots of wind speed.
So - it's going to be light, it's going to be tricky - a normal in-port race day, then.
The tide tables say that high water in Boston Harbour will be a little after midday, so it should be ebbing all afternoon. According to the tidal charts I've seen - which were rather lacking in detail - that ought to mean a gentle south-easterly flow of less than half a knot across the race course. Unfortunately, it seems that it was anything but gentle yesterday afternoon, so if we see something different, we'll try and keep you posted.
There should certainly be less tide running inshore, particularly west of a line running due south of the headland that pokes out at the north end of Winthrop beach. But I doubt that this is going to have much impact on the race course, which is likely to be further east, in the deeper water to the north of the main shipping channel into Boston.
It feels like we always have sunshine and good breeze for the practice race, and light winds and cloud for race day - so we do at least know a lot about racing these boats in the softer breezes. Principally, tacking and gybing these boats is very expensive. In the absence of big wind shifts and puffs, the fastest way round the course has usually been the one that requires the least number of tacks and gybes.
So, if conditions are relatively stable, then there will be a big premium on the start - getting away fast, with clear wind and the ability to be able to continue all the way to the layline for the gate being vital. We've seen port tack starts work in both Rio and Qingdao, and even when the port tacker has gone behind the rest of the fleet off the line, they've been in great shape at the end of the first leg.
The other thing we've seen a lot of is how quickly the picture can change on these boats, with their ability to accelerate in the puffs, and the fast changing sailing angles when they do - so a great start doesn't guarantee a win. Once again, I reckon we're in for a really open day's racing.
- Mark Chisnell
Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon crossing tacks during the Boston In-Port race. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
Riath Al-Samarrai is in the race village and filed this report from dockside:
Dogs will not be blown off chains. The wind here in Boston is light, the flags in Fan Pier doing a slow dance to a weak beat of about six knots.
But that’s not to say things have been uneventful. Royalty is in town, King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf and Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed, Minister of Education from Saudi Arabia, doing a question and answer session with 300 scouts. It has raised an important debate: what do you call a group of scouts? A battalion? A herd? Who knows?
There has also been frantic activity in the sail lofts. Shore crews have been pacing nervously for weeks, wondering where their inshore sails are? In short, they were stuck in Brazil due to a problem with a container ship. Most arrived yesterday afternoon at about 1500, but some sails belonging to Telefonica and Green Dragon were held up in a further delay. “Annoying,” was the succinct feeling of Telefonica shore boss Campbell Field.
There was a happy ending, though. At about 0530 this morning they arrived and all is well in sail land again. “You’d like a bit of time to raise the cloth before a race,” said Green Dragon CEO Jamie Boag. “But we’re all pretty familiar with these sails so it wasn’t a massive issue.”
The drama was not over, however. This morning at 0900, PUMA finished painting their A4 and brought it to the dock. One stickler for the rules from a rival team protested to teacher that it was not allowed to bring sails down after 0800. He did not read the notice that said the rule had been relaxed due to the unnatural delay caused by the shipping issue. Said stickler is believed to be in for an ear bashing from his shore boss.
Oh well, it keeps us busy until the wind fills in. He said with hope.
The fleet heads downwind in the fog in the Boston In-Port race. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
The crowds are growing, but the wind is not. It's still about six knots in the race village, so says PUMA shore boss Neil Cox, and the hope isn't for a great deal more out on the race course off Winthrop Beach.
"We might get patches of 10 knots but not for long," Cox added. The consensus yesterday was that Telefonica Blue will roar to victory, a boat that has the best track record in the in-port races and one with a particular affinity for light breezes. Roar is probably the wrong term, though.
"It's going to be a drift off," said Delta Lloyd shore boss Mike Danks.
Jamie Boag (Green Dragon) is less pessimistic. "These boats only need three to six knots to get moving so it should still be a good race, just not a fast one."
Asked for a prediction, PUMA's Sidney Gavignet simply said: "Rain." He is used to being the only Frenchman in the fleet, but today he is spoilt for compatriots. Laurent Pages is on Telefonica Blue, as is legendary two-time Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux. He will not be competing, just watching, and adds to the star presence.
Paul Cayard is also in town, as are his fellow race winners Mike Sanderson and Mark Christensen. Christensen has won this event three times - a record - and seemed in no hurry to come back. But Sanderson, the skipper of ABN AMRO ONE in the last race, left the door ajar for a return. "I have enjoyed doing other things, but of course you miss it," Sanderson said. "One day, if the campaign was right, I'd like to have another go. It's a great race and I have some great memories."
The King of Sweden is still in town and has just walked down the dock, shaking hands with the scaly paws of hardened sailors.
The start is approaching and questions will soon be answered. Have Ericsson 3 improved their inshore performance? Will Telefonica Blue justify their status as favourites? Have PUMA been misleading us in playing down their local knowledge? Are the wind gods just toying with us?
We'll know in a few hours.
Lining up for the start of the Boston In-Port race. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
16:45 UPDATE: RACING POSTPONED
Not surprisingly, the race start has been postponed.
The delay is disappointing for the huge spectator fleet on the water in the sports-mad city of Boston. But that's yacht racing. Jennifer Lilley, our race weather forecaster, says the sea breeze may yet build. Let's hope she's right.
Elsewhere, there is a sporting smorgasbord. The Boston Bruins are in action in the NHL, the Red sox are locking horns with the Cleveland Indians in rounders, and the Bruins are hosting the Celtics in hoops.
Delta Lloyd, the former ABN AMRO ONE (Black Betty) with a new bow section, keel, sails, etc, performs unexpectedly well in the light air in the Boston In-Port race. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
Bill O'Hara's Race Committee has re-laid the start line as the wind has shifted to the left and is at 110 degrees - a 20-degree swing. Still no news on a possible re-start time. We will keep you posted on delveopments. The next warning is set for 13:30 local (17:30 GMT).
Lots of "streaky bacon" out here at the moment, according to Lisa McDonald on our audio boat in a reference to the light, flukey conditions. Speaking of food, tea time is approaching here at Race HQ in Hampshire. Bacon sandwiches are not on the menu, pizzas are.
Good news, the postponement flag has been lowered. We are set for a start. Ten minute gun fires.
Start of race one. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
They're off. Race One is umderway. Great start from Green Dragon, with Neal McDonald at the wheel today and regular skipper Ian Walker calling tactics. Keeping the Dragon company is Ericsson 4, PUMA and Telefonica Blue. Green Dragon started at the pin end fully powered up.
Boat positions out of the start of race one. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Black fluffed their lines and struggled to get off the line.
We have a left-right split. The Telefonica twins and Delta Lloyd on the right and the gang of four on the left led by Green Dragon, PUMA and the Ericsson sisters.
Boat positions just after the start of race one. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Telefonica Blue leads Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon through the mid-course gate. Then follows, in close order, the Ericssons and PUMA and Telefonica Black.
Boat positions at the first gate on leg 1. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
At the top mark, Telefonica Blue maintains her lead, Delta Lloyd (formerly ABN AMRO ONE and known to be sluggish in light airs) is second. Ericsson 4 third and PUMA fourth. Green Dragon, slipped down the order to fifth.
Telefonica Blue reaches the top mark first in race one. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Green Dragon had a problem with a sail set, launched a bowman after he got tangled up in the sheet. It cost them dearly. There was only a cigarette paper between them and Ericsson 3 at the mark -something which the on-the-water umpires would have taken note of.
Green Dragon's day just got a whole lot worse. A 360-degree penalty for the indiscretion with E3 at the mark.
Telefonica Blue holds her lead at the gate. Behind Bouwe Bekking's men the pack is shuffling. Delta Lloyd conceded ground after overcooking their gybed approach. Ericsson 4 is third, while Telefonica Black (4th) has got ahead of PUMA (5th). The backmarkers are Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon.
Delta Lloyd on leg 2. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
The good news is that the pressure on the course is building. No doubts over a second race now.
Boat positions down leg 2. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Boat positions finishing leg 2. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Boat positions on the downwind gate rounding. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Delta Lloyd has closed the gap to Telefonica Blue at the windward mark for the second time. Just four boats lengths (nine seconds) between them at the turn.
Telefonica Blue and Delta Lloyd on leg 3. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Delta Lloyd rounds mark 3 in second place. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
The leaders have a comfortable margin over Ericsson 4 who won the cat fight with PUMA for third on that leg. Telefonica Black followed. Ericsson 3 and the ailing Green Dragon occupy the cheap seats.
Boat positions rounding mark 3. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
The wind has shifted right - as has the finish line.
Iker Martinez (driving) and Bouwe Bekking (tactics) grab the spoils in Race One. The well-drilled crew of Delta Lloyd strike a blow for nostalgia by claiming second place on their first generation Volvo Open 70.
This is the artist formerly known as Black Betty who was not renowned for her turn of speed in fickle breeze. She has been transformed under the stewardship of Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez.
Torben Grael's Ericsson 4 take the final podium position. The home boys on PUMA just edge out Telefonica Black for fourth. Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon complete the order.
Start of race two of the Boston In-Port race. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.
The warning signal for Race Two will be at the top of the hour with the start due at 19:10 GMT.
Right, back to the pea soup that is the Boston in-port race track. The warning signal has sounded - we are 10 minutes from the start of Race Two.
Conditions are still overcast and winds patchy but the pressure is building slightly as the first whiff of the anticipated sea breeze kicks in. We have about six knots, direction 130 - a shift to the right since Race One.
Race Two is underway. A recall for both Ericsson boats and PUMA. They have it all to do now.
Start of race two. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Ericsson 3, Ericsson 4 and PUMA return to re-start race two. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Good start again for Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Blue out left, and Green Dragon, positioned to the right of the course. Green Dragon had a slightly late start on port at the committee boat end, fully powered up, just like PUMA in the Rio in-port race.
Boat positions out of the start of race two. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Just reflecting on the stand-out performer in Race One, it is worth recalling that the first generation boat - ABN AMRO ONE - finished last in the very first in-port race in Sanxenxo in the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race in similar light conditions. She went on to post a convincing overall victory.
Green Dragon tacking. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Green Dragon upwind. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
At the gate for the first time of asking, it's tight between Delta Lloyd the Telefonica pair and Green Dragon. Green Dragon, which tangled in the first race, have a close call with Delta Lloyd. The Dragon comes off second best having to bear away. The umpires may have the final word on that one.
Boat positions on leg 1. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
The guys who were over early, Ericsson 3 and 4 and PUMA, have closed the gap to the legitimate starters and are back in the mix.
At the windward turn, Telefonica Blue, having lead at every mark so far, are launched. Sistership Telefonica Black is second, 27 seconds behind, with Delta Lloyd third and hard-pressed by Ericsson 4.
Top of leg 2. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Green Dragon has been sucked back into the pack of re-starters and leads the trailing pack of Ericsson 3 and PUMA. Yes PUMA. The battle for the wooden spoon is intense.
Boat positions on leg 2. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
The breeze has stiffened. Deja vu at the halfway gate, the Blue boat leads, Delta Lloyd and Ericsson 4 locked together and in hot pursuit. Green Dragon has had a good downwind leg and is on Torben Grael's tail and just ahead of Ericsson 3. Then comes Telefonica Black and PUMA.
Boat positions mid-way through leg 2. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Through the gate, Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 4 peel off to the right on port tack. Most of the fleet follow - apart from Delta Lloyd who are taking the high-risk road left.
Delta Lloyd is the big loser on the second beat, slipping from second to sixth place at the windward mark. The blue boat holds her advantage, Telefonica Black just sneaks ahead of Ericsson 4 for second place. Ericsson 3 is fourth from PUMA, Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon.
Boat positions at the gate on leg 3. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Top mark, second time around. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
On board Delta Lloyd on the final downwind leg. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
The fleet heads downwind for the last time. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Telefonica Blue has stretched ahead at the midway gate for the second time. "A coronation parade" according to Mark Chisnell.
Boat positions leading into the finish. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
19:55 RACE TWO FINISH
It's two bullets for Telefonica Blue. Back-to-back in-port race wins. A mirror image of the result posted by Bowue Bekking's men at the opening in-port race series in Alicante at the start of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race in October.
It means yet more champagne for the Blue boat's guest on board, Michel Desjoyeaux, the 2009 Vendee Globe winner.
Ericsson 4 finishes in second and leads the rest of the fleet home. Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race.
Ericsson 4 was second overall in the Boston series with a third and a second place finish. Delta Lloyd, second and sixth, take the final podium position.
Ericsson 3 emerged from the tie-break which settled the squabble over placings thereafter to take fourth place from Telefonica Black (fifth). PUMA, who had an off day on home turf was sixth. Green Dragon, promised much but a couple of mishaps meant they failed to deliver where it matters - on the scoreboard.
Telefonica Blue's four points enables them to shave half a point off overall race leader Ericsson 4.
The Ericsson twins return to re-start race two. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
BOSTON IN-PORT RACE SERIES: OVERALL POSITIONS:
1. Telefonica Blue
2. Ericsson 4
3. Delta Lloyd
4. Ericsson 3
5. Telefonica Black
7. Green Dragon
Volvo Ocean Race