Monday, 25 May 2009

VOR: Team Delta Lloyd Finish Fifth After Stunning End to Leg 7

Mayor of Galway Padraig Conneely with skipper Roberto Bermudez. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Diana Bogaards

In the early morning of May 24 at 03:39:58 GMT, Team Delta Lloyd (NED) finished fifth in Galway, Ireland after a stunning final stage of the seventh leg. The gap between the second and the sixth finisher was only one hour and forty minutes. An ecstatic crowd resisted the low temperature at night and gave the offshore sailors a warm welcome to Ireland. Ericsson 4 took the consecutive victory and extended its overall lead in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09.

"The last couple of days racing is what everybody comes back for. Quick downwind sailing and reaching", smiled watch leader Nick Bice (AUS) on the dock. On Friday, Team Delta Lloyd was still close to a podium finish, but it lost ground in the following 24 hours. Helmsman André Fonseca (BRA) explains why: " We blew up the fractional A6 spinnaker, so we couldn't use it for some important hours. As a result, we lost contact with the front runners. We tried to gibe a bit earlier to make a difference, as we were losing all day. At the beginning it was ok, but in the end the others were coming fast from leeward. But anyway, the boat and crew are getting better and the performance is improving."

Telefonica Black became again a thread in the last miles towards the finish. The Spanish VO70 closed in quickly, as Delta Lloyd was clearly slower. Watch leader Nick Bice (AUS): "We changed from a small jib to a fractional Code Zero, but that was probably a bit early in that breeze. It was still too windy. We ended up with some leverage between Telefonica black and us, which helped them go that fast. We had a much tighter angle."

East/west choice
Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak called the seventh leg from Boston to Galway exhausting: "It is obvious that the stress level rises as soon as the conditions get rough. Especially for the helmsmen." A considerable depression awaited the fleet between the ice exclusion zone and the finish in Galway. Three boats headed into the big winds, whereas the rest of the fleet opted for a bit calmer circumstances. Verbraak explains his strategy: "There were two options: you could go to the west and pick up strong winds or you could go to the east with a flatter sea state and less pressure. Chuny and I discussed the possibilities and decided to for the more conservative choice of less breeze."

Skipper Roberto - Chuny - Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) continues: "We were looking for the best route and 45 knots wind is not always the best sailing. With 35 knots breeze, you can still use the spinnaker. The course we choose was good, considering Puma and Telefonica Blue. In the end we all came together again. We are happy that we could fight with the fleet. We never pushed over the limit. We didn't make big mistakes, didn't break anything, there are no personal injuries and we finished fifth. That is an improvement. Everybody worked really well. For me it was a pleasure to sail with this crew. Now we have to prepare for the In-Port Race.

Result seventh leg Boston-Galway:
1. Ericsson 4: 8 points
2. PUMA: 7 points
3. Green Dragon: 6 points
4. Telefónica Blue: 5 points
5. Delta Lloyd: 4 points
6. Telefónica Black: 3 points
7. Ericsson 3: 2 points

Overall leaderboard (provisional):
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA) 92.0 points
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 77.5 points
3. PUMA (Ken Read/USA) 76.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) 60.0 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) 52.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) 36.0 points
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) 29.5 points
8. Team Russia, 10.5 points (DNS)

Team Delta Lloyd
Volvo Ocean Race

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