Tuesday, 9 June 2009

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG EIGHT DAY 3 QFB: received 8.06.09 0732 GMT

Green Dragon bowman Justin Slattery. Image copyright Huang Jian/Green Dragon Racing.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

I am only 60 miles from my house in Warsash right now, which is making me homesick! Nine months away from home so far, so I guess I can last another three weeks until the end of the race.

It has been a very good 24 hours for the Dragon as we are leading the fleet down the Channel. We continued to keep as far south as we could with a series of gybes throughout yesterday.

Every time we went south we got more wind and gained on those around us. The problem was that it was pushing us towards the Channel Islands where the strongest tides in the Channel exist and where we were due to arrive at the worst possible time.

It was because of this that the fleet stayed north of Alderney in less foul current, but the wind was too good for us to give up and we stayed south and took on the 'Alderney Race'.

Telefónica Black had been covering us all day, but we managed to use the island to split away from them. Despite fighting six knots of current, we managed to get to the French coast and we gybed down the rocks to sneak around with a few miles of advantage.

It was a highlight of the race, rock hopping at night in fierce current, trying to steal every boat length we could on the fleet. Since then, it has not gone quite as well, as we paid a small price for being too close to the Cherbourg peninsula after Cap de la Hague. It was a difficult dilemma - stay close to the land to stay in less current but run the risk by of losing your wind under the land. The important thing is we are out and clear now, the wind has filled in and we are neck and neck with Telefónica Black with most of the fleet 10 miles behind.

Onboard life is easy as we are sailing in flat water, but sleep is problematic with so much decision making and manoeuvring. I was up 12 hours straight all last night so today I intend to catch up on sleep in preparation for more fun and games in the Dover Straits tonight.

Volvo Ocean Race

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