Friday, 12 June 2009

VOR: Team Delta Lloyd Takes Fifth Place after Spectacular Finish

Battle for fifth position decided in favour of Delta Lloyd. Image copyright Diana Bogaards/Team Delta Lloyd.

by Diana Bogaards

On the early morning of June 11 2009, Team Delta Lloyd (NED) took the fifth position just in the nick of time after a spectacular finish. In the final nautical miles of the eighth leg to Marstrand/Sweden, the Spanish Telefonica twins were faster than the Dutch entry. However, by a daring final sprint through the islands, skipper Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) and his crew still beat Telefonica Black. At 05:38 hours local time, the fifth position was a fact, followed by an explosion of joy. Ericsson 4 took the third consecutive win.

The crucial gybe. Image copyright Diana Bogaards/Team Delta Lloyd.

Minutes after the gun skipper Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) smiled and congratulated boat captain Nick Bice (AUS): "He and the shore crew have done a great job on maintaining the boat. She is responding really well." Bermúdez de Castro says he is happy with their performance as a crew: "We fought from the start till the end. It was an exciting and nice leg full of maneuvers, shifts and currents. I am satisfied, because the whole team did a fantastic job every day. We are still improving and that is important. Especially with such a short leg it is hard to push them that hard."

His fellow countryman and trimmer David Pella also liked the sailing very much: "For me it hasn't been a really tough leg, just enjoyable. Personally, I found myself in the best shape. We have had several days without sleeping, but we have been able to spare ourselves in order to be ok for the last stage of the race."

Close battle for fifth position. Image copyright Diana Bogaards/Team Delta Lloyd.

Verbraak called the close finish after 1,250 nautical miles 'really incredible': "The normal choice is the right side of the entrance to Marstrand, as there are many rocks on the left side. But is was our only chance to pass the Spaniards, so we took on the challenge." That is how Delta Lloyd came across on starboard tack, with Telefonica Black on port tack at the right side of the entrance. "We could just gibe on top of them and that was it. Fantastic moment", jubilated Verbraak.

A short review
"It was very intense, as there were only options related to low pressure areas", reviewed Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak the eight leg of Galway to Marstrand. "The weather models were useless, so it was about thinking and finding new possibilities. The choice before Rotterdam was between east or west. We chose the right side and picked up some breeze, whereas Ericsson 3 went to the west, which was the direct line. We had to invest in going to the east, but it paid off."

It was blowing along the Dutch coast. Verbraak continues: "We had again to make a decision whether to stay a little longer in that pressure or where to cross the low. It kept us busy u ntil yesterday morning." Verbraak explains how they gained five miles on their way to Denmark: "The front runners set course to the Danish coast, whereas we went already to the north."

Since the Delta Lloyd Gate Race, the NED 1 has climbed from a fifth to third position, followed by a drop to the sixth place. Verbraak: "That was caused by a lack of boat speed. Telefonica Blue and Black were simply faster. That is a pity, but also a fact we have to live with. We finally came back by sailing smart."

Birthday present
An early finish was the team's birthday present for Ed van Lierde, who turns 34 today. Van Lierde: "It was a tough leg. Directly after the start we were smoking along the Irish coast, sailing full throttle to the Fastnet Rock and then we were playing tactical games in light conditions through the Channel. So, many sail changes and less sleep." Bowman Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED) agrees: "This night, we went throug h the whole sail inventory, starting with the Code Zero to the A3 and A4. Hoisting and dropping stay sails. So, it was great to beat Telefonica Black in the end. Almost emotional." But Poortman thinks they could do better: "Green Dragon sailed a perfect race. They made no mistakes and that with a slower boat. We should be able too."

Results eighth leg:
1. Ericsson 4
3. Green Dragon
4. Telefónica Blue
5. Delta Lloyd
6. Telefónica Black
7. Ericsson 3

Overall leaderboard after eight legs:
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 102 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 87.0 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 86.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 64.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 59.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 42.0 points
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 35.0 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

Team Delta Lloyd
Volvo Ocean Race

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