Sunday, 14 June 2009

VOR: Start of Leg 9 to Stockholm

The Volvo Open 70 fleet crosses the start line of Leg 9 from Marstrand. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Sunday, 14 June 2009


An update from our colleagues on the FleetBroadband Express. Telefonica Blue has damage to the port daggerboard. The boat is under sail back to Marstrand where a full inspection will take place.

She was freed using a pilot boat pulling the bow and another boat with a line attached to the halyard from the top of the rig.

The FleetBroadband Express has now set off in pursuit of the fleet having given the six boats a nine-mile start. With the fleet currently powering along at 22-24 knots, according to the Duty Office, they are going to take some catching. Pedal to the metal guys!


Better news for Telefonica Blue, the crew has finally freed the boat from the rock and are under sail power again. No doubt they will be checking out the canting keel mechanism before deciding what their next step is. A full assessment of the damage is high on the job list.

They have lost two hours to the fleet.


The first Position Report is in. Ericsson 4, despite an ordinary start by their standards, is in a three-way battle at the head of the fleet along with the sistership Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon.

Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Black are a mile further back with PUMA +2 miles adrfit.


Meanwhile, from out on the race course, an email arrives from Delta Lloyd Media Crew Member, Sander Pluijm.

"We just passed Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon and are now in third position," he wrote. "After our great start and our unfortunate park-up in a wind-hole the boys are sailing with a smile again.

"Everybody is happy to be out on the water again, after this really nice and relaxed stopover in Marstrand.

"But now we are racing again and moving forward ..." Unlike Telefonica Blue.


Telefonica Blue is surrounded by support boats, inclduign those of rival teams. Recovery crews have attached a line to the mast and another to the boat in an effort to dislodge the boat.

The third attempt proves unsuccessful. A horrible grating sound emanates from under the hull each time they attempt to move it. This is deeply frustrating for the crew.

Bowman Daryl Wislang has donned the dry suit and appears to be the man designated to dive below to help the rescue efforts.

As for now, the boat is still stuck and not looking like budging.


Telefonica Blue is in a "dire circumstance", reports Peter Rusch from on board the FleetBroadband Express at the scene. "It is sitting on it's keel on the rock, very hard aground," he says. "The boat is like a wounded elephant right now. It is tilted over on quite an angle. They have a line attached to one of the Coast Guard vessels and are trying to refloat it."

Under the rules, Telefonica Blue will have to serve a two-hour time penatly though that is the least of the crews' problems right now.


Big news. Telefonica Blue has struck a rock.

They suspended racing with a call to the Duty Office at 12:33 GMT. Shades of the Qingdao start on Leg 4 when Bouwe Bekking's men similarly came to an abrupt halt after running aground at the pre-start.


At the bottom mark, Green Dragon found themselves exposed on the right-hand side of the course, gybed to the mark as the wind shifts right. Telefonica Blue and PUMA both profit. The lead passes to Bouwe Bekking's men.

A brilliant three-way tussle at the mark behind Telefonica Blue. PUMA pounces on an untidy drop on Ericsson 3 as the Nordics hook the spinnaker on the spreader. Green Dragon takes the inside line at pace. Nothing between the three at the mark.

Telefonca Black holds eventually holds off the charge of Ericsson 4, as does Delta Lloyd.

With the preliminaries of the start course completed, and all seven Volvo Open 70s successfully dodging thousands of spectator craft, Leg 9 is underway.


Ericsson 4 have slipped past Delta Lloyd, blown the doors off them would be more accurate and are now on the transom of Telefonica Black. Looks like a move from seventh to fifth for the overall race leaders on the downwind stretch.


Downwind, Ericsson 4 territory, and Torben Grael and his men are making gains. Green Dragon clings to the lead but Telefonica Blue, with a slightly better angle, is threatening.

Ericsson 3 completes the lead trio all three with spinnakers bulging. In Telefonica Blue's case, that's an A2, says Tom Addis, all 450 square metres of it.


At the top mark, Green Dragon leads them round, hoists the spinnaker and heads for the spectator fleet - dangerous business. Telefonica Blue follows with Ericsson 3 third. The Nordics, not surprisingly, attract a huge spectator fleet at the can.

PUMA was fourth, followed by Telefonica Black and Delta Lloyd, who are neck-and-neck. Ericsson 4 brings up the rear. You don't write that very often.


Green Dragon has risen from the ashes of a disastrous start to lead the fleet as the breeze builds. The order thereafter is Telefonica Blue, Delta Lloyd, Ericsson 3, PUMA, Telefonica Black and Ericsson 4. Yes, Ericsson 4. But remember there's plenty of mileage left in this leg. 525 miles in fact.


Telefonica Blue, on the right-hand side of the course, has found some pressure as the fleet negotiates the 6-mile start course before being released into open water.

The spectator fleet is encroaching on the race course. The Race Committe has its hands full clearing a path to the first turning mark.


It's slow motion at the moment. The wind is dying and the swell is playing havoc, and the spectator fleet continues to claim victims. We have a very expensive car park of Volvo Open 70s off Marstrand.

Boats are bobbing (up and down) and weaving (around the pleasure boats) at present.

Green Dragon, armed with the Code Zero, have found some breeze after the sluggish start from Ian Walker's men. Ericsson 4, all the way out to the left side of the course, have also found some pace.


The breeze has dropped from 10-12 knots at the pre-start to around 5 as the passage from Marstrand to Stockholm begins in earnest.

The spectator fleet is "forming a wall", says Knut Frostad. Worst affected is Green Dragon, Ericsson 4 and now Telefonica Blue. The top three is PUMA, Delta Lloyd, Telefonica Black.


Race start. Leg 9 is underway.

Three boats on port and four on starboard. All clear. PUMA makes the best of the start at the pin end. Telefonica Blue keep close company as does Delta Lloyd.

Green Dragon and Ericsson 4 get bogged down. PUMA already has four boat lengths on Ericsson 4.


Five minute gun sounds.


Hundreds of spectator boats on the water - and on the cliffs surrounding Mastrand. The spectators that is, not the boats. Should make for a spectacular start. Plenty of wash for the fleet to negotiate when the gun sounds.


Ken Read, PUMA skipper, dockside ahead of the start: "It is a battle between second and third, not for first place, so that feels a bit different.

"We have to battle to opposite instincts. One is, we have to be ahead of Telefonica Blue. In that respect it doesn't matter if we're sixth or first, as long as they're one boat behind us. So you may find the two of us well down the fleet because we're watching each other. Clearly the priority, for the first time in this race, is that we don't have to win the leg. Winning the leg is not the priority. Of course, if we have an opportunity to get a jump and put some boats in between us, we'll do that. So we'll have to have our eyse open on the blue boat rather than trying to get a leg win."


Aksel Magdahl, navigator, Ericsson 3, dockside a few moments ago: "I think it's going to be really fresh as soon as we get out there. I think a good fast start, as soon as we get off the coast it should freshen up, maybe 20-25 knots, quite a bit.

"But the finish looks very slow. with a lot of light airs. That's going to be the most important part for the navigators. The weather is very unstable and difficult to forecast. You don't really know what's going to happen 12 hours ahead like this."


Report from the Race Committee has the wind averaging 11 knots, from 265 degrees.

According to Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael, it's going to be a quick start but a slow finish. As he put it, 'It's going to be fast going South and slow going North.'


It's looking like a great day for racing here in Marstrand, with mostly sunny skies and a light to moderate breeze already. Jennifer Lilly's forecast is calling for winds near 12 knots at start time, depending on whether we're relying on sea breeze or gradient winds.

With the brighter weather, it's likely to be a very busy start area. Hundreds of spectator boats are expected, along with thousands of people coming out along the shoreline to watch.

Volvo Ocean Race

No comments: