by Diana Bogaards
Team Delta Lloyd (NED) is on its way to the final destination of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, St. Petersburg. On Thursday June 25 at 2 pm, the last starting gun was fired just outside the Swedish island of Sandhamn. The seven VO70's reached across the line and commenced at the concluding 400 nautical miles. Only the Dutch entry and Telefonica Black hoisted the staysail and Code zero. However, it was Puma that took the early lead with her biggest competitor Telefonica Blue in her wake. Delta Lloyd followed in seventh position and has meanwhile passed Green Dragon.
"This is going to be our final push", said skipper Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) minutes before he left the dock. "Most important is that we will be fighting for a podium finish. Everybody is really focused. We know we can do it. It would be great to conclude this long Volvo Ocean Race with a top three result."
The fleet started in a 10-12 knots northeasterly breeze with a bright mid summer sun and flat water. A big spectator crowed showed up to wave the ocean racers goodbye. After having completed the course around the cans, the teams passed the Sodergrundham mark and headed out to the East Sea. The wind is expected to increase up to about 17 knots until midnight. As soon as the boats enter the Finnish Gulf, the breeze will gradually drop to about 5 knots.
Shore navigator Frits Koek (NED) about an extra dimension in this tenth leg to St. Petersburg: "The Russian authorities requested the competitors to not cross the Russian/Finnish border too often." That means the navigators need to choose a side, but accordin g to the Dutch meteorologist the Finnish coast is not an option: "The coastal strip of 20 nautical miles is too dangerous with lots of shallow spots and rocks."
Parade in downtown St. Petersburg
The few islands off the Russian border form the exclusion zone. The organization will make sure that the fleet crosses the finish line on Saturday morning at the latest, as a million spectators are expected to watch the parade on the Neva River later that afternoon. Especially for this occasion, two bridges will be opened at 5 pm in downtown St. Petersburg. If necessary, the race rules allow the race committee to shorten to course.
According to the current predictions, Team Delta Lloyd will finish for the very last time in this Volvo Ocean Race at about noon on Saturday June 27.
Team Delta LloydVolvo Ocean Race