Sunday, 7 June 2009

VOR: PUMA LEG EIGHT DAY 1 QFB: received 07.06.09 0856 GMT

PUMA Ocean Racing, skippered by Ken Read (USA) at the start of leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kenny Read (skipper)

I think I want to move to Ireland.

It is always sunny (at least when we were there). The golf is amazing. The people couldn't be nicer. You can get a pint of beer just about anywhere you turn. All we did was win races when we were there. And people wanted us to sign autographs and take photos with them all hours of the day. Hmmmm. What's not to like about all of that?

The "Lets do it Galway" group set up a program that could become the model for Volvo stops in the future. They got the ball rolling and the people of the region took the ball and ran with it. Huge congratulations to all involved. It was our extreme pleasure to be a part of your community for a couple weeks and you can bet your last dollar that I will be back, long before the Volvo comes back. Golf anyone?

And the weather to leave was amazing as well. Not exactly warm and sunny, but windy and really fast!

In this race, when leaving port, we have typically had either a storm or drifted. Rarely have we had a solid breeze to get down the track like we did over the last 17 hours. Some amazing sailing and some pretty hairy moments as well.

After the send off the fleet settled down and started a drag race down the coast. The Dragons were the only one to split offshore and sure enough they gained a couple of miles on us all when we came together. Then came the fun part, a 38 knot squall just when we needed to jibe with our masthead chute up! Yikes. Along with a big shift, we decided to drop the kite and jibe to the jib and jib reach for a bit until the squall passed. Good plan, bad execution. Full gear up in 38.7 true is pretty touch and go, just getting the kite down is touch and go, especially when it pops up and over the top of the mainsail and jams in the shive. Did I mention it was blowing 38 knots during all of this?

We finally got the halyard to run and the boat jibed. The Dragons were the only boat to jibe before the big breeze and gained a few miles. Last time I saw Ericsson 4 they were laying on there side blowing out to sea. They finally jibed about 10 minutes after we did. And sure enough, once we rounded the bottom corner of Ireland and beam reached at an average of 27 knots across to Fastnet Rock, all of us were within a few miles again. Magnets, these boats are. Just can't get away from each other.

Now we are officially entering the English Channel. Just passed Lands End, and got here in 17 hours which has to be some sort of unofficial record by water. Fast all night and now the breeze is easing and coming aft and we should be running down the Channel in moderate to light breeze for most of the day. Ericsson 4 is about 2 miles to leeward, Telefónica Blue about two miles behind and Ericsson 3 about a mile behind them. Again the wild card is the Dragons who sagged well off toward the French side of the Channel and may come out well ahead again when this is all said and done. Not sure, and honestly we have to keep a close eye on our Telefónica Blue friends anyway. Not that we don't want to win the leg, but we do have a job in hand and that is to try and put points on Telefónica Blue.

The normal first day blues are rubbing off and we will quickly get back into synch. We were just talking about the high speed night we just had and all are smiling now that the spray isn't pummelling us every second. Man these boats are fast, and WET! Glad PUMA took it upon themselves to make the best foul weather gear we have ever worn. It is surely getting tested!

Volvo Ocean Race

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