Sunday, 24 May 2009

VOR: Green Dragon May Have Match Race Finish into Galway

Phil Harmer and Ian Moore share a joke on board Green Dragon. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing.

by Lucy Harwood, with additional material from SailRaceWin

SailRaceWin: While Ericsson 4 appear to have the leg sewn up as far as first place goes, there is a battle royal on for second between the Irish/Chinese entry Green Dragon and the boat from the other side of the Pond, PUMA. According to current estimates, all the boats should finish within 4.5 hours of the winner.

This leg into Galway, and in particular the fight by the home team Green Dragon, who have missed the podium to date, is setting up for comparison with the 9 second winning margin of the Melbourne to Wellington leg in the 2005-6 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, which finished in a match race (reminiscent of battles into Auckland in the Whitbread between Sir Peter Blake and Grant Dalton). The last leg of the 2005-6 Volvo Ocean Race into Goteborg, Sweden, also comes to mind, when the young ABN AMRO 2 team were pipped into port, after leading for much of the leg, by Paul Cayard's Pirates of the Caribbean, with a mere 4 minute winning margin.

Lucy Harwood: The fleet are approaching Galway at record speed after a night of stealth play and some reshuffling in the fleet. Ericsson 4 have maintained their lead and as predicted have extended a little overnight. The final gybe to Galway would be crucial and nobody was letting on as to when or how they were going to do it. There was all to play for, and from 1300 GMT yesterday afternoon all of the fleet barring Telefonica Black went into stealth play one by one throughout the night. It would be a tense night for the whole fleet, but in the early hours of this morning Green Dragon popped up back in the radar and it was a great result for the crew onboard who found themselves sitting in a podium position in third. They had moved up from fifth and were now just a mile behind PUMA in second, Green Dragon had executed a perfect gybe into the new system. Volvo’s Race expert Mark Chisnell explained the issue the fleet faced, “As the low moved away to the north-east, and a new one started to approach from the south-west, the breeze started to back (rotate anti-clockwise) from the west to the south-west, and drop The wind shift forced the boats to gybe from port in the westerly, to starboard in the south-westerly to maintain their course to Galway.”

With the fleet set to ride the low pressure system all the way into Galway it will be a nail biting finish as the battle for second unfolds within the final miles off Galway around the Arran Islands. The drag race to the finish is on and a heroes welcome awaits the Dragon in Galway Bay. The Dragon is holding onto second alongside PUMA just 39 miles behind Ericsson 4.

Leg Seven Day 8: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 303
2. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) + 39 nm
3. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) + 39 nm
4. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) + 52 nm
5. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 57 nm
6. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) + 84 nm
7. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) + 88 nm

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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