Sunday, 7 June 2009
Green Dragon, skippered by Ian Walker (GBR) at the start of leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.
by Lucy Harwood
It was an emotional goodbye for the Green Dragon team as they waved goodbye to the thousands of well wishers who lined the docks in Galway. “I can only say thank you from all of us for such a wonderful two weeks,” commented an emotional Ian Walker on the dock. Galway Girl belted out from the speakers and the crowd sang along as the home team untied the lines and headed out of the dock gates. Conditions on the water built and soon a strong 20 knot breeze filled the bay.
Green Dragon blasted out of the blocks for the start of Leg 8 from Galway to Ireland, the home team relished the 20 – 25 gusty conditions as they got stuck into the downwind start. The seven boat fleet went off like rockets with their big spinnakers flying pulling away from a large flotilla of boats that had come out to send the fleet off. These were the strongest conditions that the race has seen yet for a start, and it was Green Dragon who led the fleet round the first mark, followed by Ericsson 4 and Telefonica Blue. The fleet then headed back upwind for another 2 miles towards the finall mark, Ericsson 4 sneaked in front of Ian Walker and his crew pushing the Dragon to second, followed by Telefonica Blue, PUMA and Telefónica Black. Ericsson 3 and Delta Lloyd followed further behind playing catch up to the rest of the fleet. The big sails came out once again and the Volvo 70’s sprinted off towards the Aran Islands. The fleet will then head south along the west coast of Ireland, before passing the famous Fastnet Rock and then onto the English Channel.
This leg although a sprint at just over 1200 miles, will not be easy. There are tidal gates, headlands, shipping and other obstacles the fleet will have to negotiate along the way. It will be tiring for the crew who will be forced to tack and gybe their way towards Marstrand in Sweden. Once past the English Channel the course will see the fleet head into the North Sea, where they will race around a loop set off the Hook of Holland before heading to the finish, they are currently expected in Marstrand on the 11th June.
Leg Eight Day 1: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) DTF 1257 nm
2. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) + 0 nm
3. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) + 0 nm
4. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 1 nm
5. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) + 1 nm
6. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) + 1 nm
7. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) + 2 nm
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS
Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race