Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Green Dragon, as seen from Ericsson 4, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Lucy Harwood
It has been yet another good day for Green Dragon as they keep the pressure on and stay at the front with Ericsson 4 who are just four miles ahead. Today the fleet exited the English Channel and headed towards the Rotterdam Gate Race track where the fleet laid down some fast times for the rest of the world to take on when the loop opens to the public later today.
The gate race course was marked out by two rounding points requiring the fleet to complete a reaching loop. The idea was for the times set by the Volvo Open 70s to be logged and for professionals and amateurs to challenge those times when they were let loose on the course once the fleet had passed. The 70s completed the 3.6 nautical mile time trial in 20-25 knots with the wind at 220. Ericsson 3, labouring at the back of the fleet in the Leg 8 standings, set the fastest time of 12 minutes 40 seconds. Thereafter the order was PUMA (14:03), Telefonica Black (14:35), Telefonica Blue (14:56), Green Dragon (14:58), Delta Lloyd (15:03), Ericsson 4 (15:11).
Ericsson 4 were the first off from the gate heading north with the Dragon in hot pursuit. Yesterday’s leader Telefonica Black started to struggle in the downwind south westerly conditions, allowing Ken Read and his crew to take advantage and creep up the leaderboard, but this was to be short lived. Delta Lloyd were next to follow with Telefonica Blue desperately to pull back miles from their biggest threat to the overall race PUMA. They managed to do this and jumped up the leaderboard to fourth. Whilst PUMA have lost miles to the fleet and are now laying in seventh 32 miles from Ericsson 4. The Nordic crew onboard Ericsson 3 continued to struggle at the back, but have made some ground in the last few hours and and now find themselves ahead of PUMA in sixth some 27 miles from the leaders.
The current routing suggest that the fleet will hold onto the south-westerly breeze, as they head west into the North Sea with the low pressure system centered to their north-northwest. The Dragon will be looking to hold onto the fast downwind breeze as they make their final approach to Marstrand.
Update from skipper Ian Walker onboard:
“So we have just completed our timed lap of the Delta Lloyd Time Trial, just north of the Breakwater at Rotterdam. The complex nature of the low pressure which had dominated this race means that the intricacies of the forecast are very different from real life. Right now we are sailing downwind in 30 knots when the forecast suggests we should have 12 knots. This makes it very hard to predict what will happen next and we are sailing more tactically than strategically. Stay with the fleet and try to make small gains. We are in second place and while we continue to sail down wind we have a chance of retaining this position. But should we continue with this plan or try to find a big strategic play and break from the fleet.”
Leg Eight Day 4: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) 332 DTF
2. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) + 4 nm
3. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 19 nm
4. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) + 19 nm
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) + 21 nm
6. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) + 27 nm
7. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) + 32 nm
Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race