by Lucy Harwood
The fleet will set sail from the city of Stockholm for the 400 mile leg to St Petersburg in Russia Thursday afternoon (25/06/09) at 1400 local time (GMT +2). It will mark the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09 and the final opportunity to claim crucial points for teams wanting to secure their overall place on the leaderboard.
Whilst the 400 miles should be a short leg, current forecasts suggest light and tricky conditions, which will make the final miles of the race a frustratingly slow time for the crews onboard. With Ian Moore back in the UK waiting the impending arrival on his second child, Jean-Luc Nelias who joined the crew for the In Port racing, will remain onboard for Leg 10. “We have someone fresh, new and motivated to do a good job onboard, which I think is what we need right now. It would be very easy to get caught just going through the motions, so I’m hoping Jean-Luc will help to keep us on our toes. The forecast is upwind and for conditions to become increasingly lighter as we get to the finish. Hopefully we won’t park up and we’ll get there in time, we are all looking forward to getting to St Petersburg,” Ian Walker. Also stepping onboard will be Sander Vander Borch who is a guest of Bwin one of Green Dragon’s principal sponsors. Under race rules all teams are allowed to take a guest onboard for every leg, they are prohibited from sailing the boat in anyway, but can live with the crew and ultimately experience life on these extreme racing machines.
Leg 10 will see the fleet sail across the Baltic Sea and then east down the Gulf of Finland to St Petersburg. “The forecast shows good conditions for the start out of Stockholm with a north easterly 8 – 12 knots and this should last for the first couple of hundred miles, but it will be an predominantly upwind leg with conditions become increasingly lighter as we approach St. Petersburg. The leg will see us dealing with shifty conditions and some tactical options such as whether to sail south or north of the Gulf of Finland. It has the potential to be an interesting leg which may throw us some surprises along the way, at present the leg should take approximately 48 hours, with an eta into St. Petersburg on Saturday afternoon,” said Green Dragon navigator Jean-luc Nelias.
For the first time since Singapore the fleet is back up to eight boats as Team Russia returns to the race after arriving into Stockholm late yesterday afternoon. This 400 miles will be the culmination of 37,000 miles of ocean racing for the eight Volvo 70’s and their crews. “This next leg will mark the completion of an epic journey for our whole team. It has been three years in the planning and we have had many highs and lows along the way. I am incredibly proud of the whole team both on shore and the crew on the boat and I am sure it will be a special moment when we cross the finish line into Russia” said Skipper Ian Walker.
The Gulf of Finland
The Gulf of Finland is the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea that extends between Finland (to the north) and Estonia (to the south) all the way to Saint Petersburg in Russia, where the river Neva drains into it. Other major cities around the gulf include Helsinki and Tallinn. The eastern parts of the Gulf of Finland belong to Russia and some of Russia’s most important oil harbours are located farthest in, near Saint Petersburg (including Primorsk). As the seaway to Saint Petersburg, the Gulf of Finland has been and continues to be of considerable strategic importance to Russia. Some of the environmental problems affecting the Baltic Sea are at their most pronounced in the shallow, cul-de-sac gulf.
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject (a federal city) of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city’s other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg ceased being the capital in 1918 after the Russian Revolution of 1917/8. It is Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with 4.6 million inhabitants, and over 6 million people live in its vicinity. Saint Petersburg is a major European cultural centre, and an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea.
Saint Petersburg is often described as the most Western city of Russia. Among cities of the world with over one million people, Saint Petersburg is the northernmost. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Russia’s political and cultural centre for 200 years, the city is sometimes referred to in Russia as the northern capital. A large number of foreign consulates, international corporations, banks and other businesses are located in Saint Petersburg.
1. Ian Walker/GBR - skipper
2. Jean-Luc Nelias/FRA - navigator
3. Guo Chuan/CHN - MCM
4. Neal McDonald/GBR – watch captain
5. Damian Foxall/IRL – watch captain
6. Anthony Merrington/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
7. Phil Harmer/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
8. Andrew Mclean/NZL – pitman/trimmer
9. Justin Slattery/IRL – bowman
10. Freddy Shanks/GBR – bowman
11. James Carroll/IRL - trimmer
Jean-Luc Nelias/FRA - navigator
Ian Moore/GBR - navigator
Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race