Sunday, 7 June 2009

VOR: Team Delta Lloyd Sprints to the Hoek van Holland

Spectacular spinnaker start of eighth leg to Marstrand

Delta Lloyd, skippered by Roberto Bermudez (ESP) at the start of leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Diana Bogaards

At the moment Team Delta Lloyd (NED), skippered by Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (ESP), sprints at a speed of almost twenty knots to the Dutch coast of Hoek van Holland. On Saturday June 6 at 3 pm local time, the starting gun was fired just outside Galway/Ireland. With the northeasterly of 20 knots coming from behind, the fleet hoisted the spinnakers and flew over the line. Thousands of people enjoyed the spectacle, among which the Irish President Mary McLeese. She wished all skippers personally good luck, before they left the dock.

Green Dragon gave their home crowd a good show, by taking the early lead and smoking towards the first mark. However, it was the overall leader Ericsson 4 that was leadin g the pack out of Galway. Team Delta Lloyd was the last VO70 to leave the bay, but in very close competition with Ericsson. The Dutch entry is currently in sixth position.

It looks like it is going to be a rapid leg of only 4,5 days. During the first part along the Irish west coast, the breeze will pick up to 20-25 knots. That means high speed and a quick passage of the famous Fastnet Rock at about midnight. The crossing of the Celtic Sea to Land's End will be a wild one with 20 knots of wind. Shore navigator Frits Koek (NED): "They will be there tomorrow morning around 8 am. It is not sure what comes next, as there are two possible scenario's. If the American weather model is right, the VO70's will keep the good westerly pressure and they will probably opt for the English side of the Channel. If the European model is going to prevail, the breeze will be lighter and variable. In that case, the French coast is more favorable."

According to the current routing, the fleet will hit the starting line of the Delta Lloyd Gate Race close to Hoek van Holland on Tuesday at about 5/6 am. "Hopefully I won't be too busy with sail changes, so I can enjoy it", said bowman Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED). His fellow countryman and trimmer Ed van Lierde is also looking forward to sailing home: "I can't wait and I heard that my girlfriend will be onboard of the Tommy Hilfiger Extreme 40."

Preparing for intense battle
This morning on the dock, David Pella (ESP) talked about the upcoming fast and intense race of 1,250 nautical miles to Sweden: "You know you will be busy from the start till the very, with more than one sleepless night. As soon as you jump onboard, you have to be prepared for everything. It is a short course with lots of corners, ship traffic and heading changes. You need to be constantly aware of unpredicted situations." Pella has is own way to prepare himself for t hat: "The mindset is a bit of Zen, or let's be ready for anything. My motivation brings me in that mode."

Apart from the weather, this eighth leg is about 'classic' navigation elements, as Koek calls them. Skipper Bermúdez de Castro: "There are many important factors, such as the strong currents and the shipping. You need to stay concentrated, as you can change course every 60 miles. Our aim is to fight with the fleet for a good result."

In addition to title sponsor Delta Lloyd, the Dutch/Irish syndicate is also supported by Chieftain Group, Tommy Hilfiger, OHRA Verzekeringen, Port of Rotterdam, Discovery Channel, Weather News and Hemels van der Hart.

Team Delta Lloyd
Volvo Ocean Race

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