Saturday, 27 June 2009

VOR: PUMA - 'An Outrageous Year'

by Rick Deppe

We've been doing this now for 450,000 miles and if all goes to plan we'll be finished in around 50 miles. By the time I'm done I'll have served around 4170 meals (who's counting), will have emptied out countless (easily hundreds) buckets of water from inside the boat. All this before I've even started my doing my real job.

Whilst doing my job I've been pushed, punched and told daily to get out of the way because not only am I useless at my job but also that my job is completely and utterly pointless anyway!

Hard to believe but in Singapore, tiring of inter crew struggles and feeling sick since India, I was very close to throwing the towel in. It was definite a low point in the race for me. I'm glad I didn't, because the second half of the trip has been brilliant.

As a team we've had our ups and downs but thankfully in the end, things have come together, and now with only a few days left together as a group, I feel a strong bond with everyone on the team. We just sailed the whole way round the world together - that's massive.

It's been an outrageous year aboard il mostro to say the least and there have been some incredible highs and lows. Its easily the hardest thing I have ever done and along the way I've recorded over a hundred hours of video footage, taken more than 18000 photos. In addition I've written loads of blogs and created fifty podcasts.

To do this work I've spent untold hours scrunched up on a bean bag in my media station trying to keep cameras and computers dry, all the while the boat is crashing and bashing its way around the world.

Along the way I've only lost two cameras and under the circumstances I'm actually quite proud of that. My workspace is underneath the mainsheet winch. It's really noisy when we are reaching along, and the trimmer eases the sheet it feels as though your teeth are going to fall out of their sockets.

Since the beginning I've tried to make the media station my own... its held together with duct-tape and bits of bungee cord. It drives Ken (Ken read) crazy with all my "junk", but there's just no place to put it. Hopefully in the next evolution of the race the media station will be designed into the boat from the outset rather than going in at the end.

This evolution of the race has been notable for the transition to High Definition TV, and the amount of amazing media coming from all boats in the fleet has been staggering. The communications technology and hardware on the boat, whilst daunting at first, has worked brilliantly. My hats off to the guys at Inmarsat for making it all possible and being supportive along the way. A huge thank you has to go out to the travelling Livewire team who kept everything working perfectly.

One of the great things about the race now and always is the friendships that are forged and sealed. I look around the other boats and see friends I've sailed with in past races. It's great to meet all the new guys coming up and I think the race will be in great hands moving forward.

I've enjoyed getting to know all of the Volvo Ocean Race crew and it's been great working with everyone on the travelling media team.

I can't finish this without thanking my family, initially for letting me take off for a year to do this crazy adventure and then bravely making the decision to come along for the ride themselves, albeit by plane. They've been with me the whole way and the trip would have been much much tougher without their love and support.
Thanks Guys.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Leg 10 - Finish

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Saturday 27 June 2009

07:30 GMT UPDATE

We've finally managed to connect to Ian Walker for all of you Green Dragon fans: "It didn’t feel like the fire and brimstone finish that we might have expected. But we did have a good race with Delta Lloyd at the end there.

"If we go back to our original goals we wanted third so we would have to be relatively disappointed with fifth, but we can be proud. We finished every leg and that was important to me and the team.

"I’m not sure there are any losers in this race; it just feels great to have sailed around the world. You do worry about losing someone, about someone getting ill, about the future of the project and right now we have finished and nothing untoward has happened and we have some incredible memories."

And we can also tell you the fleet is making its way up river and is now just over an hour so away from arriving at the customs dock. Everything is on schedule for later this afternoon too.

05:30 GMT UPDATE

Well, it's getting awfully quiet around here suddenly. We're going to shut things down for a couple of hours, catch a few winks, and get geared up for this afternoon.

Riath Al-Samarrai will try to touch base with the crews when they reach the custom/immigration dock, which should happen around 13:00 local time here in St. Petersburg. He'll get the more considered reaction from the sailors there and file a finish report this afternoon.

Then beginning after 17:00 local time, the boats will pass under the bridges (which are never raised during the day, so we're told) that lead to the race village area and there will be a lap of honour as they head for the pontoon.

03:45 GMT UPDATE

Here's what Delta Lloyd skipper 'Chuny' Bermudez told Amanda Blackley after they finished: "We made a good job and everyone enjoyed their time. Everyone is happy and that is the most important thing. It started well but then there was some fighting with the Dragons. They did a fantastic job with the manoeuvres and I say congratulations to them for that. It has been fun."

03:30 GMT UPDATE

For those of you wondering about Kosatka and Team Russia, we can tell you that they weren't far behind Delta Lloyd. They haven't been tracked as such by the race office, but had been sending in their position every few hours so we could know where they are. They will be part of the festivities here, which will kick off around 17:00 local time, or 13:00 GMT, when the fleet leaves the custom/immigration dock and passes under the bridges which connect the different parts of the
city. They'll then parade in front of the race village.

03:25 GMT UPDATE

Here's the vital stats from Leg 10, along with an elapsed time for the overall race:

1st TELEFONICA BLACK - 00:41:25 GMT; Elapsed 1d 12h 41m 25s; Combined 87d 1h 31m 20s
2nd IL MOSTRO - 00:42:48 GMT; Elapsed 1d 12h 42m 48s; Combined 129d 16h 23m 01s
3rd TELEFONICA BLUE - 00:51:55 GMT; Elapsed 1d 12h 51m 55s; Combined 134d 21h 49m 30s
4th ERICSSON 3 - 01:04:48 GMT; Elapsed 1d 13h 04m 48s; Combined 145d 9h 17m 37s
5th ERICSSON 4 - 01:31:49 GMT; elapsed 1d 13h 31m 49s; Combined 127d 07h 46m 17s
6th GREEN DRAGON - 02:57:56 GMT; Elapsed 1d 14h 57m 56s; Combined 135d 05h 53m 3s
7th DELTA LLOYD - 03:00:57 GMT; Elapsed 1d 15h 00m 57s; Combined 106d 00h 35m 21s

03:15 GMT UPDATE

And that's a wrap. The 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race is over. Green Dragon has held off a hard-charging Delta Lloyd to finish sixth in Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race. We'll have all the finish details for the fleet in a moment.

03:00 GMT UPDATE

Not far to the finish line for our remaining pair still racing. Green Dragon has a slender lead over Delta Lloyd with about a mile to go to the finish. They should be finished in a few minutes. Don't worry, we haven't forgotten them!

02:25 GMT UPDATE

Guy Swindells has just spoken with Torben Grael, Ericsson 4 skipper: "I think it is a mixed feeling because we know this is the end of the story for the project. It’s a funny feeling because some of these guys you have never met before and you become like brothers. Now we go our own ways and it’s a strange feeling.

"On the other had it has been a long race. It was a very long race around the world. We are completely drained and tired so I think everyone is looking forward to a nice rest. We have had a wonderful time. We enjoyed our training time in Lanzarote and the race as well. We have had our ups and downs, but it has been fun. After we won it
was a bit of a relaxing leg. It has been so intense and so consuming so I think it is normal that after you achieve your goals you relax. I am very glad for Black and Fernando and his guys for winning this last leg."

His team won the Volvo Ocean Race with a leg to spare.

Here's their vitals:

5th ERICSSON 4 - 01:31:49 GMT; elapsed 1d 13h 31m 49s; combined 127d 07h 46m 17s

02:05 GMT UPDATE

Green Dragon is reporting they're fully engaged in a tacking duel with Delta Lloyd, just six miles from the finish. Nobody wants to finish last on the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race!

02:00 GMT UPDATE

Magnus Olsson, Ericsson 3: "I feel so tired I cannot say anything! Everybody is happy because they have sailed around the world, but also very tired. After a day or two we can say more intelligent things. You always want to do well in every leg but this was special because it was the short one and the last one. We were up there so we are happy, but we couldn’t keep up until the finish. They beat us fair and square."

01:50 GMT UPDATE

Bouwe Bekking on Telefonica Blue: "We're tired and hungry!

"It has been full on. Lots of tacking. It was a beautiful leg in that it was sunny. But we have been a bit unlucky. That’s how it goes. But well done to the Black boys, they deserved to win. They had a superb leg. Good for them. We were all very close. It is a very nice feeling to have finished and got all the boys home safely. We had a podium finish which is nice as well."

01:40 GMT UPDATE

1st TELEFONICA BLACK - 00:41:25 GMT; Elapsed 1d 12h 41m 25s; Combined 87d 1h 31m 20s

2nd IL MOSTRO - 00:42:48 GMT; Elapsed 1d 12h 42m 48s; Combined 129d 16h 23m 01s

3rd TELEFONICA BLUE - 00:51:55 GMT; Elapsed 1d 12h 51m 55s; Combined 134d 21h 49m 30s

4th ERICSSON 3 - 01:04:48 GMT; Elapsed 1d 13h 04m 48s; Combined 145d 9h 17m 37s

01:30 GMT UPDATE

Ken Read, PUMA skipper: "The habit is over. We have just sailed around the world. We don’t have to do this anymore for a while.

"Hats off to Telefonica Black. I was actually having a beer with Fernando the other night and told him for some reason I thought this would be his leg. He said ‘I really hope so’. I didn’t realise I was a prophet. I was digging my own grave on that one!

"Congratulations to all those guys, they have worked very hard for their first leg win. We will take our second and our second overall. You know what? We just sailed around the world. I guess I said 100,000 times that we know no way but to make it hard. Shame because we usually win these close battles and today we didn’t.

"The big picture is we finished this race, everyone is safe, the boat has been spectacular. We flew the flag well for Volvo and I think we flew the flag well for PUMA. We have everything to be proud of. Relief is the right word. Right now it is relief and as always we are a pretty tired group onboard. Let the celebrations begin because all of group deserves it."

01:25 - GMT UPDATE

Here's the reaction from Leg 10 winning skipper Fernando Echavarri from Telefonica Black:

"It’s a prize for all of the crew, all of the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but couldn’t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the last 100 miles. We are really happy.

"It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot. Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA and Blue and Ericsson for the last 250 miles. Really close. It has been like a match race. I don’t know how many tacks we have done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job."

01:20 - GMT UPDATE

Ericsson 3 is in now as well. We've got the radio team madly conducting interviews with the skippers.

Here's the critical stats for leg winner Telefonica Black, the fifth leg winner in the race:

1st TELEFONICA BLACK 00:41:25 GMT - Elapsed leg time 1 day, 12 hours, 41 minutes 25 seconds - Total Race Time 87 days, 1 hour, 31 minutes 20 seconds

01:00 - GMT UPDATE

And Telefonica Blue has just finished in third place, with Ericsson 3 coming in behind them. There are about 25 boats out there, it’s 05:00 local time. And that’s late enough for me, this is Cassie and Mark Chisnell signing off. Peter Rusch will be here with Riath Al-Samarrai to talk the rest of the boats in, and bring you all the quotes and reaction.

And that, as they say, is that. It’s been a blast, thanks for all the emails and support, for the TEN ZULU and the blogs – wouldn’t have been half as much fun without you.

00:48 - GMT UPDATE

Leg 10 is wrapping up here, we’ll track the rest of the boats in, and Riath Al-Samarrai will be chasing the skippers for quotes and reaction.

00:46 - GMT UPDATE

PUMA crossed the line in second, with Telefonica Blue comfortable in third, Ericsson 3 will be in fourth and Ericsson 4 appear to be safe in fifth.

00:43 - GMT UPDATE

We’re on the final run-in to the finish, Telefonica Black on starboard crosses in front of PUMA by 2.5 boat-lengths, and allows PUMA to carry on out to the south and tack on what looks like a layline to the finish.

Telefonica Black tacks onto port, and now has to maintain enough of their early advantage to cross clear in front as they come back together, as Ken Read has the right of way now PUMA has tacked to starboard.

Telefonica Black crosses in front of PUMA and tacks. Ken Read goes for speed and tries to get through to leeward. Both boats can sail straight to the finish, so it’s all about who has their bow forward. It’s Telefonica Black, quicker, and pulling out to a couple of lengths lead. It’s Telefonica Black, taking Leg 10.

00:34 - GMT UPDATE

The tacking duel goes on, but Telefonica Black look comfortable. Telefonica Blue's watch captain Jordi Calafat told me recently that he thought their boat had dominated inshore because it accelerated a little quicker and was a bit easier to sail in different ‘modes’. The same would be true of Black, and I think it’s that advantage that we are seeing now in this inshore race to the finish.

00:28 - GMT UPDATE

Telefonica Black still holding the advantage, they are maybe four boat-lengths in front. But Ken Read and PUMA are still tacking and trying to wriggle free. Fernando Echavarri and his team look to be playing a canny game, they are not being pressured into an error, as were the Ericsson 3 team at the end Leg 9.

00:25 - GMT UPDATE

The FleetBroadband Express reports that they are both tacking simultaneously, with Telefonica Black tacking to cover PUMA, as Ken Read desperately tries to struggle free. Now Ken Read double-tacks, and Telefonica choses to extend before she goes back. This is a full-on match race, with both boats tacking well, but Telefonica Black is a tad faster and has the lead. We reckon that Telefonica Black has a mile to go.

00:20 - GMT UPDATE

The suspense is killing me, but we just have to wait until someone out there who can see what’s happening gets a signal and can enlighten us. Just like the old days really, watch them sail over the horizon and wait for them to come back...

00:15 - GMT UPDATE

We still have Telefonica Black in front by a gnat’s hair, nothing in it at all with just over three miles to run. Desperate stuff, particularly as the FleetBroadband Express now appears to have driven into the threatened area of mobile phone black hole. We’re falling back on the Race Management System, and getting the occasional simultaneous Position Report, but it’s so tight that it’s hard to call from the Media Centre... Arghhh!

00:10 - GMT UPDATE

The wind speed is still in the low-to-mid-teens, with the direction slowly creeping south of east. That’s why the two leading boats are unchallenged by the pair, Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 that split away to the north.

The close race is still Telefonica Black and PUMA, with Telefonica Black holding a narrow advantage.

Sleep, what an old fashioned notion. Who needs it? Actually, I do.

00:03 - GMT UPDATE

Telefonica Black got the better of the boat speed duel, they pulled out to an advantage of about 1.5 boat lengths downwind, and about two boat lengths forward of them. Ken Read decided that he didn’t like the way that looked, and PUMA have tacked away from them, back to port tack, going north-east.

00:00 - GMT UPDATE

The FleetBroadband Express reports that Telefonica Black have tacked back to port, towards PUMA. Ken Read tacked right in front of them, but Black are trying to blast through to leeward, and the two of them are now bow-to-bow, no more than a boat length apart – ‘like they are coming off the start line’ says Mark Covell.

Both Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 are coming in from the northern side of the course, and this looks like a settled match. Telefonica Blue has a good lead over the Nordics. Ericsson 4 is equally comfortable in fifth, with Delta Lloyd leading Green Dragon by plenty.

So, it’s all about PUMA and Telefonica Black, can Ken Read and co. get their second leg win on the trot, or will Fernando Echavarri and his boys pick up their first?

Just over five miles to go.

23:50 - GMT UPDATE

Just seven miles to the finish, and PUMA and Telefonica Black have separated. Black has pushed forward, going faster with a wider wind angle. PUMA have kept it tight on the breeze, and edged away to windward. To the north-west, Telefonica Blue have tacked back to the leading pair, and at the moment it doesn’t look like they’ve done
enough out there to get past. But it all depends how the breeze shifts in these final few miles.

The FleetBroadband Express reports that the sky is darker to the south over the land. In the words of Mark Covell, it looks like Bognor Regis to the south, St Tropez to the north. Mark also felt that there might be more wind to the south. And there are a lot of ships around, it’s busy out there.

It’s an interesting question the extent to which professional sport should be dictated too by the commercial interests that actually er, pay for them – I could cite the ridiculous time that football games often start in England, because it’s what the television companies want.

23:30 GMT UPDATE

No sooner had I written that last blog than PUMA and Telefonica Black tacked. PUMA are to windward. They are both close in to the south coast, with Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 paired up and also heading offshore, but six miles away to the north-west. Lots of separation now, so anything could happen – further back, Ericsson 4 is following PUMA’s southern route close to the coast, while Green Dragon is chasing Delta Lloyd down the second leg of the triangle.

The bad news is that only half the cavalry is arriving, they pulled the bridges up in St Petersburg and it looks like you’ve got me for the duration.

23:00 GMT UPDATE

PUMA and Telefonica Black have both sailed away from the mark on port tack, heading for the shore and are still going, PUMA holding a narrow lead. I think Telefonica Blue rounded next, with Ericsson 3 right on their heels, then Ericsson 4. These last three look to be headed offshore in a final roll of the dice before the finish.

Rick Deppe reported from the battle at the front of the fleet, just before they rounded the bottom mark. “We've been having a great scrap with Telefonica Black for the last few hours. At the moment, PUMA seems to be holding them off as we approach the bottom mark of the course extension triangle.

“At one point Telefonica Black sailed right up to our transom, I could clearly see their crew sitting on the foredeck. Luckily we got a little extra puff that allowed us to slip away from them and get into a little more breeze giving us a buffer of about 500 meters, which we still hold.” Rick then added, “Il Mostro led Telefonica Black around the final mark of Leg 10 by 100 meters.”

22:30 GMT UPDATE

PUMA and Telefonica Black are round the bottom mark and on the final straight, the last 20 miles of 37,000. The red and black boat’s lead is just a couple of hundred metres. Both have extended from Telefonica Blue, and I can confirm that Blue now has Ericsson 3 breathing down their necks.

Media crew, Gabri Olivo writes in from Telefonica Blue to explain what happened. “First downwind [MC: leg of the triangle] was a chaotic one. As soon as we rounded the top mark, we started gaining on PUMA and Telefonica Black, but within 10 minutes we ran out of breeze and we parked up.

“In the meantime, Ericsson 3 that wasn't far away, did a gybe set at the mark [gybing back to the south, towards the shore, as they hoisted the spinnaker] and she gained very dangerously on us to leeward. She kept gaining until we got the new breeze and basically they never stopped. It was quite frustrating, the leaders are gone and we see the guys behind us catching up on us. Stressful time... Hopefully there will be another opportunity for us to catch up, never say never.”

While it is shifty out there, the wind is oscillating around the mid-teens and coming from the east, so no fundamental change in conditions yet. Green Dragon is on the triangle, a mile behind Delta Lloyd, and Ian Walker writes, “The whole idea of this triangle was to slow us down so the spectators could see us during daytime. Hmmm, didn't work out as planned...” Too damn fast, these boats, that’s the problem. That and the wind’s adamant refusal to drop as forecast. There, I’ve done it now, glass out on the way.

We are starting to get eaten alive in here, we need the sun to come back up and dispatch the bloodsuckers. This place was built on a marsh, apparently.

22:00 GMT UPDATE

Welcome to the Leg 10 Finish Blog, the Final Finish Blog, the finish blog to end all finish blogs. It’s nearly done, the Volvo Ocean Race that is – I’m Mark Chisnell, ably assisted by Cassie and bringing them home for you. At least until the cavalry arrive in the shape of the arrivals team, Peter Rusch, Riath Al-Samarrai and their cohorts in crime, riding over the hill just as we slump into an exhausted stupor.

You can catch up with the last ten hours of action in the Day Two, PM blog. But what you need to know right now is that PUMA leads Telefonica Black towards the final mark of the triangle, leaving them just over 20 miles to the finish line. This pair is chased by Telefonica Blue and the two Ericsson boats, with 3 having the advantage over 4 at the gybe mark.

Saturday 27 June 2009, 00:10 GMT

Welcome to the Leg 10 Finish Blog – Mark Chisnell has been holding the fort (the Peter and Paul fort, to be precise) on the evening shift. But with the fleet in the final miles the call has gone out, the web squad are rising prematurely from their slumbers to bring you full coverage of the end of Leg 10, and the end of the race - hard to believe, but true...

00:10 - GMT UPDATE

The wind speed is still in the low-to-mid-teens, with the direction slowly creeping south of east. That’s why the two leading boats are unchallenged by the pair, Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 that split away to the north.

The close race is still Telefonica Black and PUMA, with Telefonica Black holding a narrow advantage.

Sleep, what an old fashioned notion. Who needs it? Actually, I do.

00:03 - GMT UPDATE

Telefonica Black got the better of the boat speed duel, they pulled out to an advantage of about 1.5 boat lengths downwind, and about two boat lengths forward of them. Ken Read decided that he didn’t like the way that looked, and PUMA have tacked away from them, back to port tack, going north-east.

00:00 - GMT UPDATE

The FleetBroadband Express reports that Telefonica Black have tacked back to port, towards PUMA. Ken Read tacked right in front of them, but Black are trying to blast through to leeward, and the two of them are now bow-to-bow, no more than a boat length apart – ‘like they are coming off the start line’ says Mark Covell.

Both Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 are coming in from the northern side of the course, and this looks like a settled match. Telefonica Blue has a good lead over the Nordics. Ericsson 4 is equally comfortable in fifth, with Delta Lloyd leading Green Dragon by plenty.

So, it’s all about PUMA and Telefonica Black, can Ken Read and co. get their second leg win on the trot, or will Fernando Echavarri and his boys pick up their first?

Just over five miles to go.

23:50 - GMT UPDATE

Just seven miles to the finish, and PUMA and Telefonica Black have separated. Black has pushed forward, going faster with a wider wind angle. PUMA have kept it tight on the breeze, and edged away to windward. To the north-west, Telefonica Blue have tacked back to the leading pair, and at the moment it doesn’t look like they’ve done
enough out there to get past. But it all depends how the breeze shifts in these final few miles.

The FleetBroadband Express reports that the sky is darker to the south over the land. In the words of Mark Covell, it looks like Bognor Regis to the south, St Tropez to the north. Mark also felt that there might be more wind to the south. And there are a lot of ships around, it’s busy out there.

It’s an interesting question the extent to which professional sport should be dictated too by the commercial interests that actually er, pay for them – I could cite the ridiculous time that football games often start in England, because it’s what the television companies want.

23:30 GMT UPDATE

No sooner had I written that last blog than PUMA and Telefonica Black tacked. PUMA are to windward. They are both close in to the south coast, with Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 paired up and also heading offshore, but six miles away to the north-west. Lots of separation now, so anything could happen – further back, Ericsson 4 is following PUMA’s southern route close to the coast, while Green Dragon is chasing Delta Lloyd down the second leg of the triangle.

Somehow, as well as writing blogs for us, the media crews are sending back audio commentary of the action, and some stunning images - keep checking those pages for updates, as I may not remember to remind you.

Uwe Liermann writes in to ask about the problems with the Predicted
Route on the Race Viewer. An easy one to answer – the calculations are
intended for open water legs. Although they can cope with headlands
and geographic features, and with waypoints that more or less aim in
the same direction, the relatively short legs of the triangle were too
much for it.

The bad news is that only half the cavalry is arriving, they pulled the bridges up in St Petersburg and it looks like you’ve got me for the duration.

23:00 GMT UPDATE

PUMA and Telefonica Black have both sailed away from the mark on port tack, heading for the shore and are still going, PUMA holding a narrow lead. I think Telefonica Blue rounded next, with Ericsson 3 right on their heels, then Ericsson 4. These last three look to be headed offshore in a final roll of the dice before the finish.

Rick Deppe reported from the battle at the front of the fleet, just before they rounded the bottom mark. “We've been having a great scrap with Telefonica Black for the last few hours. At the moment, PUMA seems to be holding them off as we approach the bottom mark of the course extension triangle.

“At one point Telefonica Black sailed right up to our transom, I could clearly see their crew sitting on the foredeck. Luckily we got a little extra puff that allowed us to slip away from them and get into a little more breeze giving us a buffer of about 500 meters, which we still hold.” Rick then added, “Il Mostro led Telefonica Black around the final mark of Leg 10 by 100 meters.”

22:30 GMT UPDATE

PUMA and Telefonica Black are round the bottom mark and on the final straight, the last 20 miles of 37,000. The red and black boat’s lead is just a couple of hundred metres. Both have extended from Telefonica Blue, and I can confirm that Blue now has Ericsson 3 breathing down their necks.

Media crew, Gabri Olivo writes in from Telefonica Blue to explain what happened. “First downwind [MC: leg of the triangle] was a chaotic one. As soon as we rounded the top mark, we started gaining on PUMA and Telefonica Black, but within 10 minutes we ran out of breeze and we parked up.

“In the meantime, Ericsson 3 that wasn't far away, did a gybe set at the mark [gybing back to the south, towards the shore, as they hoisted the spinnaker] and she gained very dangerously on us to leeward. She kept gaining until we got the new breeze and basically they never stopped. It was quite frustrating, the leaders are gone and we see the guys behind us catching up on us. Stressful time... Hopefully there will be another opportunity for us to catch up, never say never.”

While it is shifty out there, the wind is oscillating around the mid-teens and coming from the east, so no fundamental change in conditions yet. Green Dragon is on the triangle, a mile behind Delta Lloyd, and Ian Walker writes, “The whole idea of this triangle was to slow us down so the spectators could see us during daytime. Hmmm, didn't work out as planned...” Too damn fast, these boats, that’s the problem. That and the wind’s adamant refusal to drop as forecast. There, I’ve done it now, glass out on the way.

We are starting to get eaten alive in here, we need the sun to come back up and dispatch the bloodsuckers. This place was built on a marsh, apparently.

22:00 GMT UPDATE

Welcome to the Leg 10 Finish Blog, the Final Finish Blog, the finish blog to end all finish blogs. It’s nearly done, the Volvo Ocean Race that is – I’m Mark Chisnell, ably assisted by Cassie and bringing them home for you. At least until the cavalry arrive in the shape of the arrivals team, Peter Rusch, Riath Al-Samarrai and their cohorts in crime, riding over the hill just as we slump into an exhausted stupor.

You can catch up with the last ten hours of action in the Day Two, PM blog. But what you need to know right now is that PUMA leads Telefonica Black towards the final mark of the triangle, leaving them just over 20 miles to the finish line. This pair is chased by Telefonica Blue and the two Ericsson boats, with 3 having the advantage over 4 at the gybe mark.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Leg 10 - Day 2

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Friday, 26 June 2009

21:55 GMT UPDATE

PUMA still holding off Telefonica Black, they are past the gybe mark, with the red and black mean machine still in the lead. Both boats sailed on downwind to the west, before gybing for the last mark of the triangle. It is so tight, it’s looking like Leg 9 all over again.

Behind them, Ericsson 3 look to have got back to Telefonica Blue, both boats very close to rounding the gybe mark, with Ericsson 4 on their heels. Ericsson 3’s media crew, Gustav Morin has been a bit quiet recently, since they took those losses and dropped back from the leading pair. But he’s back with more of that Ericsson 3 fighting spirit. And not just for the podium either, Gustav is in the frame in a very tight contest for the overall Inmarsat Media Crew award.

“Not over. For a while we felt a bit low here on Ericsson 3. It felt like we lost it when we got into a bad rhythm and got the [wind] shifts wrong. Now we are back in business. We have put a big gennaker up and while Telefonica Blue went close to the land we made a short gybe out to get more breeze. It seems like we can make big gains but the wind is very shifty and the race is still open.”

And with the boats about to turn the corner at this last mark of the triangle and start the final 20 miles to the finish, we will close the Day Two, PM blog, and start a nice new one for the finish – see you over there in a few minutes.

21:30 GMT UPDATE

PUMA is holding off Telefonica Black down this first leg of the triangle. Nothing much in it though, Telefonica Blue, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4 all around the first mark, with everyone now gybing down this leg, they can’t sail it in one straight line.

And Rick Deppe has added his valedictory speech to the boat emails – clearly something he didn’t just dash off this evening. Those guys have all done an amazing job, they’ve helped to transform the way ocean racing is reported. A big hand for the media crews, please...

21:00 GMT UPDATE

PUMA led around the first mark of the triangle, and are now headed down the first leg, chased by Telefonica Black, and then Blue. The wind has softened, and I don’t think that they can quite get to the gybe mark in one go.

Rick Deppe reports from PUMA, “We have a tight battle on our hands with Telefonica Black. Il Mostro rounded the top mark first but we were slowed down by a small mistake on the bow. Telefonica Black is right on our transom.”

Gabri Olivo reports from Telefonica Blue, “After three hours of upwind we finally reached the mark that we have to round to complete the loop. PUMA is just about to round it with the Blackies on their toes, we're just waiting for an opportunity, we're not far behind. Clock is ticking...”

And it’s all happening at the other end of the fleet as well, Sander Pluijm writes from Delta Lloyd, “We just overtook the Green Dragon, they are on our stern now while the sun sets fantastically over the Baltic sea , the air is pink and the sun is red - whauw!”

This White Night’s thing is really quite spectacular, it’s just gorgeous outside, quiet and still with the soft light and just the hum of the city in the background.

20:30 GMT UPDATE

Rick Deppe reports, “It’s game on, we are in a tight tacking duel with Telefonica Black who are at the moment in on the shore and appear to be doing well. We have just tacked over to cover them, the mark is about seven miles away. The other boats seem to have fallen off.”

The breeze is holding up in strength, still in the mid-teens, and still blowing out of the east. The two downwind legs of this triangle are not going to take long, and may well be PUMA’s opportunity to gain some distance before the final upwind.

Right now, PUMA is leading Telefonica Black back out from the shore towards the first mark of the triangle. Ken Read and his team have about a 400 metre advantage. But Telefonica Blue is safely tucked away to leeward and behind, with Ericsson 3 even more safely put away – she’s sailing directly in the wake of the two leaders.

This is turning into a repeat of the Leg 9 finish, where PUMA fought two sisterships up to the home straight, and then battled one to the finish. Only this time it’s the Telefonica twins, not the Ericsson boats. And there’s further to go to the finish, so I wouldn’t count anyone out of the final analysis just yet.

Ken Read piles in after Rick Deppe’s comments in the previous update, “I now know that I have heard it all. This race has been extended! The race organizers didn't think the previous 37,000 miles were long enough so this leg has been extended. Oh my god.

“What makes it a bit of a bummer is the fact that we are leading and the wind is getting lighter and the two light air rocket ships (Telefonica Black and Telefonica Blue) are right behind us. Oh well. Never easy. We have sailed a solid leg to date. Need to keep it up. Will report after the finish. A 30 mile triangle to do now and it is full on.”

Talking of the Race Management, the team has headed out onto the water, so I snuck into the office and managed to blag some very fine meatballs from their fridge. So I think Cassie and I are good for a few more reports.

20:00 GMT UPDATE

It probably goes without saying that having led for the larger part of the race, the PUMA boys are not happy about 30 extra miles in perfect conditions for the two boats chasing them. But Rick Deppe is going to say it anyway, “We are about to commence the last part of the race, a 30 mile triangle that we must complete before heading to the finish. For sure there are some grumpy sailors onboard this boat because of the triangle and I'm sure some of the other boats have their share of the same sentiment as well.”

Yes, but probably not Bouwe Bekking, Fernando Echavarri and their teams.

Rick goes on, “There are probably no two boats on earth that we would less want to go up against in under 15 knots of wind than the Telefonica boats, but unfortunately they are both snapping at our heels to leeward. Ericsson 3 seems to be fading a little, but as we've found over the last year of racing.... never, ever count them out.

“So for now we play a covering game with Telefonica Black. Ken Read told me that he spoke with Fernando, the skipper of Telefonica Black, before the start, and told him he thought this might be their leg. They are certainly sailing that way, we can clearly see the crew hiking and they are matching us tack for tack.”

It’s midnight local time here in the Media Centre, and we finally had to turn the lights on as it was starting to get a little gloomy. White Nights. And Spanish Castles. Sorry, these are the last opportunities for promotion. And since there’s no one around to stop me, as they are all resting (except Cassie) and gathering strength for the final arrival...

19:30 GMT UPDATE

The dogfight continues, with PUMA struggling to hold back the Telefonica boats. These three are now all back on starboard tack, beating their way towards the first triangle mark, which is about nine miles to windward of them – to the east-northeast in an east-northeasterly!

PUMA has a tight cover on Telefonica Black, but Blue has escaped to the north, and created some separation. Ken Read can’t keep close tabs on both of them, and Bouwe Bekking and Fernando Echavarri would love that top spot on the podium. Meanwhile, Ericsson 3 is headed for the beach to the south. They are scattering like pheasants.

19:00 GMT UPDATE

The top five boats are still all on port, heading south-east for the coast, while behind them, Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd are duking it out around the SPEZ.

Gustav Morin and the boys on Ericsson 3 are not happy about the way things are developing, “The last couple of hours have not been that much fun. We have been tacking up the coast and we have not been very lucky with the shifts. PUMA and both the Telefonica boats have slipped away a bit and Ericsson 4 has been catching up.

We are still fighting and there is a chance that the wind will drop in front of us and we can catch up again. We have been sailing faster than we thought we would and it seems that we will have to sail a triangle course for hours and hours just to keep the arriving schedule intact.”

The finish is some distance from St Petersburg. The boats have to motor to the city and clear Customs. Then the prime time event is when they raise the bridges at 17:00 local (13:00 GMT) to let the boats into the city. Judging by the traffic on the way into the media centre this afternoon at about that time, it should bring the place to a complete standstill...

18:30 GMT UPDATE

A real battle is developing at the front of the fleet, with PUMA leading Telefonica Black by just half a mile. Telefonica Blue is only another mile behind, Bouwe Bekking and his squad on a real charge in the last few hours.

There’s been a reconfiguration of the waypoints in the race management system, so everything will jump at the next Position Report. One result is that we now have Ericsson 3 just three miles behind the leading trio, with Ericsson 4 stalking her from another three miles back.

This leading pack is all on port tack in the easterly breeze – but it’s getting pretty shifty out there. I can see wind directions ranging from 45 (Delta Lloyd) to 85 (Ericsson 4) and wind speeds from 13 to 18 knots. I think these final miles are going to be a rollercoaster.

18:00 GMT UPDATE

It’s all kicked off with the fleet tacking along and now clearing the northern edge of the SPEZ. The breeze has shifted round to the east, and dropped back to the low-teens – how low will it go? It’s anyone’s guess, there was still some breeze in St Petersburg last time I was outside, and there’s not going to be any real ‘night’, so it may hold up all right.

At the moment, PUMA leads the Telefonica twins to the south-east. But Ericsson 3 has got dropped and passed, she is down to fourth, ten miles behind Telefonica Blue and has her sistership closing fast. The next upcoming challenge is the triangle course.

Gabri Olivo reported earlier from Telefonica Blue, “Back into the race! We finally managed to climb back some miles and we just crossed ahead of Ericsson 3 and just behind Telefonica Black. We're about to go around the exclusion zone and after that the games begin!!”

Sander Pluijm has also reported that Delta Lloyd is right up beside Green Dragon in the battle for sixth and seventh. “We are bow to bow with the Green Dragon, it’s going to be a tacking game in the backfield of the fleet.” And the front, Sander.


17:30 GMT UPDATE

It’s hotting up out there, the fleet have started a bit of a tacking frenzy along the northern boundary of the SPEZ. The gainers at the moment look to be Telefonica Blue, who may well have gone past Ericsson 3, but we’ll have to see how it plays out. What I can be sure of is that the wind is finally shifting to the east and dropping as predicted. So that will slow them up a lot, as they race east to the first corner of the extra triangle.

For those of you who thought the hazards were all over, here’s a note from Gustav Morin on Ericsson 3, “We are getting closer to the finish and it’s not the weather, winds, waves or speed that are extreme. The environment surrounding us isn’t even something that I would raise an eyebrow for, until a look at the chart...

“There are warning signs with ‘MINEFIELD!’ That’s probably some old info, the mines should be gone and cleared out by now, someone said – unfortunately it is not quite like that.

“Aksel Magdahl told us, ‘When I was sailing to St Petersburg in the Oops Cup 2006 we were very close to sailing straight into a big mine. We were gybing and saw the mine just when the manoeuvre was over and with very little distance we managed to not hit it.’ We are now in the same area and Aksel just went up on deck to tell the guys to keep an extra eye open for strange objects in the water.”

Elsewhere, there’s a valedictory email from Green Dragon skipper, Ian Walker email – and I should say that Ian’s been one of the best email writers in this race... and a birthday celebration on Green Dragon, with a long discourse on marriage that’s going to get someone into trouble...

Carolyn O'Donnell reported that PUMA’s marketing campaign is working, “What a great adventure. Today I bought a PUMA t-shirt that shows the exact replica of Il Mostro’s sail only because I am a fan... maybe that is why Puma is in the lead today - so far.”

17:00 GMT UPDATE

It does look as though the wind is finally dropping, it’s under 15 knots for the whole fleet now, and we’re starting to see wind directions of east-northeast. Could the much heralded shift to the east finally be happening?

Perhaps as a result, Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 have tacked to starboard and are headed north, but PUMA and Ericsson 4 are still going east along the northern edge of the SPEZ. The Dragon has snuck across in front of Delta Lloyd as they both approach the north-western corner of the SPEZ.

16:30 GMT UPDATE

There’s a new Position Report, and for the top five, they are all in a line, sailing along the northern edge of the SPEZ.

PUMA hold a one mile lead from Telefonica Black, who hold a one mile lead from their sister-ship Telefonica Blue, who hold a one mile lead from Ericsson 3, who are a massive four miles in front of their sistership, Ericsson 4. Things are a little more complex for Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd, the Dragon still has to tack to get around the SPEZ, so this one could end up being closer than the leaderboard has it.

Meanwhile, aboard Ericsson 4 they have been celebrating the birthday of their mighty steed and suffering from a bit of victory fatigue, according to Guy Salter, “It’s sunny, it’s calm, we’re going over 11 knots but still it isn’t really enough for the Ericsson 4 posse! We can see the first four boats ahead - but by a fair margin and we can just make out the boats chasing behind.

“It’s pretty dull onboard today - nothing really to fight for - I said we wouldn’t ever be able to cruise this boat - and we are not, but it does feel a lot like a delivery [MC: a cruise to get the boat from one place to another] at the moment. Sleeping is easy and aided by a bottle of port we have had with lunch to celebrate the first birthday of the thoroughbred - or best of breed in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

“Yes, the mighty Ericsson 4 is one today and it transpires that we have almost (within a couple of hundred) achieved 50,000 nautical miles in the old girl! That would be an extreme total of miles for any salesman in a car! Ericsson 4 has served us very well and we hope we can finish off the last 100 miles in a respectful manner deserved of a true world class champion, which is what this yacht is - good job Ericsson 4. The pleasure has been all of ours - Happy Birthday”

Sorry about the slightly bigger gap between the updates, but we really had to solve the food problem. And I’m very happy to report that we have - blogging on into the night fuelled by Russian potato salad. No, not vodka - actual, genuine potato and salad. And coffee, admittedly.

15:30 GMT UPDATE

The whole of the leeward group of PUMA, Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 said north on starboard tack, and crossed in front of Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 4, who were coming in from the west on port. PUMA has subsequently tacked back to port, to sail along the northern edge of the SPEZ. I think everyone will follow her, no one wants to get too far to the north, in case the wind shift to the east does finally arrive.

15:00 GMT UPDATE

The relative windward position of Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 4 has turned out to be important, as the lead trio of PUMA, Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 have to tack to clear the St Petersburg Exclusion Zone (SPEZ), as marked on the Race Viewer.

PUMA were the first to go, as Rick Deppe reported in his latest email, “We will shortly be tacking onto port around the island of Moschnyy [MC: north-west corner of the SPEZ]. The expected right-hander never came through and Telefonica Blue is starting to look dangerous out to weather [MC: windward] of us.

“It will be interesting to see who comes out ahead. Right now it looks as though we will still be ahead but if the wind goes any further left [towards the north] things could change very quickly. Either way it’s looking as though we might have a fight to the finish on our hands.”

It’s after the SPEZ that the extra triangle that the Race Office has just announced (13:30 GMT Update) comes into play. It is just to the east of the exclusion zone, and you can see it on the Race Viewer if you zoom right in. It looks, at the moment, as though two of the three legs will be reaching/upwind, with the final one downwind.

Whether or not this is going to slow them up much remains to be seen. The weather forecast in the Race Viewer does show the breeze imminently dropping and going to the east – just as PUMA has been expecting. But then, the forecast was for it to do that 24 hours ago, and it’s still pumping out of the north-northeast at almost 20 knots.

The crew of PUMA will not be happy with the extra miles they now have to do, as Rick reported in another recent email (anticipating the decision), “As you can imagine, this is universally unpopular with the guys who just want to finish - everyone is feeling a little burned out. Casey Smith had a few words to say about the situation that I cannot write here!” Deppe was also getting very philosophical in that recent, missive, a sure sign that the race is coming to an end.

The skipper of Green Dragon was none too impressed with the decision either, despite perfect conditions. “We have good wind, flat water and the sun is shining. Believe it or not we have still not done a sail change all leg! We were hoping this could be a new Volvo Ocean Race record if we maintained it to St Petersburg, but unfortunately the organisers have added an extra 30 mile triangle to the course which
means we will need other sails.

“This is very unpopular with the crew as there is nothing worse than seeing the mileage to the finish increase - particularly on the last leg when all you want to do is finish. It is especially unpopular with Phil Harmer, who, believe it or not, is flying straight out at 19:00 to race in the 18ft skiff worlds in France on Sunday! Anyway I don't suppose another 30 miles will kill us after doing 37,000.”

Walker also reported a close call, “We have just passed over a rocky ledge between two islands and I had my heart in my mouth as the depth dropped to 1.9 metres below the keel - I prayed the chart was accurate and breathed a sigh of relief as the depth shot back up. That's enough of those scares for one day. Other than that no real change out here in the Gulf of Finland.”

Now all I have to do is find something to eat, other than crisps and chocolate. It’s just like being on a Volvo Open 70 here at the moment, except there’s no freeze dried food.

14:30 GMT UPDATE

So, after a slight variation on Pete’s trip via Helsinki, this is Mark Chisnell returning to the blog. Cassie and I detoured to Copenhagen, and as we flew over Sandhamn at about 10:00 am local time this morning, it had taken us a mere 18 hours to get back to where I started yesterday afternoon. But we’re here now, after some impressive attack driving from the taxi pilot (driver is too humble a word), including one move to plonk us at the head of a queue for a red light that really had to be seen to be believed.

It’s taking me a while to get up to speed with what’s been going on, and most of you probably know more than I do after 12 hours on the road. But I can tell you that PUMA still leads a tight group of Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3, with an advantage of less than a couple of miles on either boat.

The breeze is still in the high teens and blowing out of the north-northeast. To the north-west of the leading trio (so, to windward and behind), and in fourth place by another couple of miles, is Telefonica Blue. Ericsson 4 is five miles behind Blue, with Green Dragon and Delta Lloyd another ten miles back. And we know that Team Russia is a further ten miles behind them.

13:30 GMT UPDATE

Those of you following religously - and I know there are plenty of you! - will have noticed a slight delay in updating the last positions to the 2D tracker. Well don't fret too much, it's up to date now. And there was a good reason.

A couple of hours ago, the Race Committee elected to lengthen the course by 30 miles, by adding a triangle for the fleet to sail around before the finish line. That has now been added to the tracker.

The reason for adding miles, is to try and get a daylight finish. There are plenty of spectator boats booked to see the end of this 37,000 mile journey. It would be good if it happened in daylight!

13:20 GMT UPDATE

The 13:00 GMT position report is in and shows PUMA still at the head of the fleet, with Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 in hot pursuit.

We've had plenty of questions about Team Russia. They've emailed their position in to Race HQ and our Duty Officer there tells us Kosatka is about 30 miles behind the leader.

Mark Chisnell and Cassie Chapman have turned up at the Media Centre in St. Petersburg now too. It seems with every hour, our team gets stronger...

13:10 GMT UPDATE

Our all-star media crew members continue to feed us information from the race course. Nice job guys! This, from Gabri on Telefonica Blue:

"Not much is been happening on the last few hours, we're still on port after we had to tack few hours ago because of a sand bank. Since then we positioned our self on the left of E3 and TBlack, with a bit of gauge on them and the wind clocked slowly to the left, so we gained quite a bit with the duo, while PUMA is clearly ahead.

"The point where it seems things will be decided it's the exclusion zone, we're now 30 miles away and it will be interesting to see how we will end up.

"Quite surprisly, there are few boats that came to see us, from both Finland Lettonia and, which shows how popular this race is. It's a bit chilly, but it's nice and flat, so not too much to complain..."

12:50 GMT UPDATE

On Telefonica Blue the three pedestals in the middle the primary winches are mounted on separate islands and the arrangement allows the headsail trimmer to sit down to leeward with half a metre of hull and then the guard rails above as security, without the feeling that they are about to get washed overboard with every wave. While it won’t be suitable offshore, racing inshore the crew, including the grinders, sit on the cockpit sole as they do on Cup boats - all good for reducing windage.

But the main advantage ofthe cockpit arrangement is what this means for the laborious stacking of sails. While the stack on the other boats is precariously perched on the side decks, the arrangement on the Telefonica boats allows the stack to be lower and when the boat is heeled this means it is further outboard and contributing more to the righting moment. “And it keeps the windage down,” says Bouwe Bekking. “Normally the stack goes all the way up to the lifelines and with this
you can stack it nice and low and you can sit on the top of the stack as well and you are still safe. The other thing is it is easy to get the stack from one side to the other side and you can even gybe and can basically leave the stack partly on one side and you can only have to move two or three sails over, because the sheets can go over the top of it, so it is very easy to manoeuvre. Plus it is so easy to trim
the headsail - you can sit to leeward of the winch and if you have to do any work to leeward you can just walk up the leeward side, because you are always safe. Whereas if you are heeling a lot and you have a normal side deck you would think nine out of ten times you wouldn’t walk up the leeward side. With this it feels really safe.”

And as regards the masts:

Another Cup-style development can be seen aloft on the Telefonica boat, where their masts are jumper-less. The rig program was led by Cup designer Scott Ferguson who examined all the solutions before the team opted for the jumper-less arrangement. “He did the numbers and it become more and more promising and we built one and put it on Brasil One and we were really happy with it and we made a big improvement with these ones,” recounts Bouwe Bekking. There is more structure in
the top of the mast but you save the weight of the jumpers but the benefit is a massive reduction in windage. “And you don’t get the sails caught up and the jibs go round the rig nicer and light air gybing you don’t have to worry about hooking your spinnaker behind the top spreader. Of course it is a bit harder if someone has to go to the top of the rig because there aren’t a lot of places to hang on.”

Obviously the main issue is managing this while maintaining adequate stability in the top of the mast. This could mean that the boats with jumpers may be able to keep their big gear up for longer than the Telefonica boats.

While the boats feature C6 carbon rigging, the top mast backstay/runner/checks arrangement is also novel with the top mast and running backstays combined and an adjuster at the hounds so that the top mast backstay can become a runner and vica versa.

12:30 GMT UPDATE

It's not just us pampered writer-types who are complaining about a lack of sleep. I know for myself, I usually find it helpful when I'm getting run down to think of what's happening out on the boats. Gustav Morin has checked in again from Ericsson 3 and gives us an update on the sleep - or lack thereof - situation on board:

"It is not only Magnus Olsson who is tired on Ericsson 3. It feels like everyone is taking every opportunity they can to get some sleep. We are running a standby watchsystem with 3 hours of and 6 hours on, but if there is not much happening some of the guys can go to sleep during the watch.

"We have learned from the leg to Marstrand where everyone got extremely tired at the same time. But it feels a bit strange to come on deck when three guys are lying around sleeping.

"I am also tired, have slept two hours in my bunk since we left Stockholm and a couple of minutes on and of when I, like always, crash with the computer in my lap. I start to think about something to write and suddenly my thoughts just get more more crazy and soon I'm off to never never land. If I close my eyes and relaxes it takes about 15 seconds to fall asleep.

"The positions has not changed much the last couple of hours. Telefonica Black and Puma is still a couple of miles in front. Blue and Ericsson 4 around five miles up to windward."

12:00 GMT UPDATE

We've had a short email in from Ian Walker on Green Dragon, here's what he had to say:

"We are still yet to crack sheets or change a sail on this leg as we sail hard on the wind to St Petersburg. It doesn't look like that will change in the next day either. The only activity for the crew outside trimming and steering is of course stacking. Sailing in a piece of water only 35 miles across and with many windshifts has lead to an abundance of tacks and the bad backs are reappearing as we have to
repeatedly carry all the sails and gear from one side to the other.

"It has been a good night for us though as the North side of the course has paid hugely. We were North on the Finnish coast and put many miles on the Russians whilst also passing Delta lloyd.

"Other than that it is a pure drag race and we sit and watch as the leaders draw away and Delta Lloyd now slowly pull back closer to us. They are currently just under 2 miles dead astern. It is a beautiful day with good wind and flat water and as I write this we have a little over 100 miles ofthe Volvo Ocean Race 08/09 to go."

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: FIRST LEG WIN FOR TELEFÓNICA BLACK IN THRILLING VOLVO OCEAN RACE FINALE

by Sophie Luther

It was an historic moment tonight in St Petersburg, Russia, when as the White Night turned to dawn the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, led by Telefónica Black in a thrilling climax, crossed the tenth and final finish line of this nine-month, 37,000 nm race around the world.

Spanish skipper, Fernando Echávarri said, “It’s a prize for all the crew and all the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but couldn’t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the last 100 miles. We are really happy.

"It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot. Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA, Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 3 for the last 250 miles. It has been really close. It has been like a match race. I don’t know how many tacks we have done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job."

Victory for Telefónica Black was hard-fought and a match race developed with PUMA, who had led the fleet for the majority of this 400-mile sprint from Stockholm. At just after midnight GMT and while on the additional triangle added to lengthen the course, Telefónica Black gained a small advantage, which translated into a two and a half boat length win, denying PUMA a second leg win in a row. However, with a total of 105.5 points, PUMA takes second place overall.

PUMA skipper Kenny Read said: "Congratulations to all those guys, they have worked very hard for their first leg win. We will take our second and our second overall. You know what? We just sailed around the world. I guess I said a thousand times that we know no other way but to make it hard for ourselves. It’s a shame, because we usually win these close battles and today we didn’t.

"The big picture is we finished this race, everyone is safe and the boat has been spectacular. We flew the flag well for Volvo and I think we flew the flag well for PUMA. We have everything to be proud of. Relief is the right word. Right now, it is relief and, as always, we are a pretty tired group onboard. Let the celebrations begin because all the group deserves it."

Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) filled the third spot both on leg 10 and overall, to close the team’s account on 98 points.

Bekking said on finishing: "We're tired and hungry! It has been full on. Lots of tacking. It was a beautiful leg in that it was sunny. But we have been a bit unlucky. That’s how it goes. But well done to the Telefónica Black boys, they deserved to win. They had a superb leg. Good for them. We were all very close. It is a very nice feeling to have finished and got all the boys home safely. We had a podium finish which is nice as well."

Fourth place finishers tonight and fourth overall with 78.5 points was Ericsson 3 and Swedish skipper, Magnus Olsson was exhausted: "I feel so tired I cannot say anything! Everybody is happy because they have sailed around the world, but they are also very tired. After a day or two we can say more intelligent things. You always want to do well in every leg, but this was special because it was the short one and the last one. We were up there so we are happy, but we couldn’t keep up until the finish. They beat us fair and square."

Runaway overall leaders, with a final tally of 114.5 points and nine points clear of PUMA, Torben Grael and his 10 crew of Ericsson 4 finished this leg in fifth place. In an interview with Guy Swindells, skipper Torben Grael, who raced every offshore leg with the same crew, was reflective in his comments as overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 finally became a reality.

"I think it is a mixed feeling because we know this is the end of the story for the project. It’s a funny feeling because some of these guys you have never met before and you become like brothers. Now we go our own ways and it’s a strange feeling.

"On the other hand it has been a long race. It was a very long race around the world. We are completely drained and tired so I think everyone is looking forward to a nice rest. We have had a wonderful time. We enjoyed our training time in Lanzarote and the race as well. We have had our ups and downs, but it has been fun. After we won, it was a bit of a relaxing leg. It has been so intense and so consuming so I think it is normal that after you achieve your goals you relax. I am very glad for Telefónica Black and Fernando and his guys for winning this last leg."

Green Dragon kept her slender lead over Delta Lloyd to finish the leg in sixth place, and fifth overall with 67 points.

To conclude the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, Delta Lloyd, the only generation one Volvo Open 70 to compete in the race, finished shortly after Green Dragon to finish the race on a total of 41.5 points.

Skipper Roberto Bermúdez said: “We made a good job and everyone enjoyed their time. Everyone is happy and that is the most important thing. It started well but then there was some fighting with the Dragons. They did a fantastic job with the manoeuvres and I say congratulations to them for that. It has been fun.”

Ian Walker, skipper of Green Dragon, should have the last word:
“It is a privilege to sail in this fantastic race and I am very proud to have had the chance. I am proud of every member of our team, and I am proud of what we have achieved together. We promised to give it everything and to never, ever give up and that is exactly what we have done. We haven’t won this race, but we have won many battles and achieved more than many dreamed possible. It has been a very special year.”

Overall Leaderboard (provisional)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 114.5 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 105.5 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 98.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 78.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 67.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 58.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 41.5 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

Leg Ten Finishing Order St Petersburg
1. Telefónica Black
2. PUMA
3. Telefónica Blue
4. Ericsson 3
5. Ericsson 4
6. Green Dragon
7. Delta Lloyd

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLACK LEG TEN DAY 3 QFB received 27.06.09 0315 GMT

by Roger Nilsson (navigator)

0141 GMT this morning we managed to do what we have tried to achieve many times during the last eight months...To win a leg!

After an intense tacking battle with PUMA, which happened the last 30 min of the race, we crossed the line no more than one boat length ahead of her. Telefónica Black has finally developed to a winning team, perhaps it has been helped by not changing any crew the last five legs.

Our skipper Fernando was the master of this match between PUMA and Equipo Telefónica and it was great to watch him. He was totally focused as if it was the medal race in the Olympics.

We got the opportunity to attack PUMA half way up the last beat, the very last 10 nm to the finish line. The crew worked hard, fast and ever so swiftly as Fernando with Gonza at the helm, ordered tack after tack, to protect the right side of the course.
Suddenly it was easy to understand why Fernando won an Olympic Gold last summer! In spite of a broken jib sheet shackle in the midst of the hot tacking duel, we managed to stay ahead. This kind of tight, intense racing fits the Blackies really well as many has a background from America’s Cup or Olympic sailing.

After 21 flawless tacks the highly skilled PUMA team was, for the first time beaten by The Blackies. The Spanish team will surely be one to watch out for during next Volvo Ocean Race.

As this race now is all over I would like to thank my great shipmates onboard Telefónica Black for a fantastic time: Fernando, Gonza, Jamie, Javi, Neti, Pablo, Anton, Mike, Cicho, David. You have been great company these 13 months. Also many thanks to Pedro Campos who made this project possible and Bouwe Bekking who invited me as navigator onboard Telefónica Black.

Before that phone call in December 2007, I was sure that I was too old for such a demanding job, both physically and mentally. But all went well with my body/mind and it has been a fantastic experience. I will miss you all but on the other hand, it is time for a 60 year old to have a rest and taking it a bit easy... if I know how to do that...

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA - A new Pitman!

by Rick Deppe

There comes a point where you just cant keep you're eyes open anymore. You'll find yourself in a comfy position somewhere and that's it! You are powerless and at that point its a simple case of what will wake you up.

It happened to me about 30 minutes ago when I was woken from my perfect sleep to the sound of all hell breaking loose on deck. I must have fallen asleep about an hour before. I staggered on deck to find the guys making a change from the Masthead Genoa back to the J1. Things didn't appear to be going well, the top batten was getting caught up in the shrouds and they had to keep dropping the sail about three metres to try and clear it. Looking astern I could see that we were nicely clear of all the boats but one, but I couldn't make out who the nearest boat was because the sun was so low on the horizon behind us. Capey informed me that it was Tele-Black.

We had made a nice gain on Tele-Blue and E 3, which was a relief because in my last blog we had been worried about Blue potentially crossing us.

Justin is off for this leg awaiting the birth of his second child. This leaves a big hole in the trimming department that Salty has jumped into which in turn leaves a big hole in the pit area. Michi now finds himself taking care of the pit while Jerry jumps back in on the bow.

I could see the frustration on Michi's face in the pit as the guys wrestled with the J1 and then once that was fixed he had to jump onto dropping the Masthead Genoa. The guys did a great job of getting out of trouble and we lost little ground on Tele Black. This crew takes boat handling very seriously - ask the E3 guys about the final beat into Sandham on the last leg - but it's never easy once you start switching people around. We had no choice but once again Michi came through with flying colors.

Leg 10 is turning into a fight all the way to the finish.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: About to Get Interesting...

by Rick Deppe

Not much happening on the boat at the moment and with about 140 miles to the finish it's really just a case of trying to keep the speed on and the other guys behind us. We only have an approximate mileage to the finish because the race committee is trying to coordinate things so that we will finish the race in a specific time window sometime around 0800 local on Saturday. They will do this by sending us on a triangle course of 10, 20 or 30 miles extra. As you can imagine, this is universally unpopular with the guys who just want to finish. Everyone is feeling a little burned out. Casey Smith had a few words to say about the situation that I cannot write here! The reason for this strange circumstance is that the fleet must make a rendezvous with the bridges into St Petersburg they will have to be raised to allow the VO 70's to pass underneath. This might not seem like a big deal but apparently it is. These bridges have NEVER been raised during the day, and the thinking by some is that it will bring the city to a standstill. Should be an interesting time.

To leeward I see the Estonian coastline and find myself wondering about the people living there. How different their lives must be from my own. What does our journey mean to the people in St Petersburg who will come to the race village for the last part of our amazing voyage? The race has been very different this time around taking in many new countries. When I think of the huge crowds in India or Qingdao, I can’t help but feel optimistic that our sport will be in good shape moving forward. Of course boating is expensive and in this economic climate may appear out of reach to many. My experience is that most sailors do not come from privileged backgrounds- not that there is anything wrong with it as my good friend the king will tell you! A great way to start is in a junior program at one of the thousands of yacht clubs around the world. I would urge members and organizers of these yacht clubs to start investing in the future by creating an affordable way in for young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to sail.

Sailing past Copenhagen on the last leg, we saw that wind power will be a major part of our energy supply in the future. It doesn't take a huge leap of the imagination to think that someday we will once again harness the wind for commercial transportation also. Technology has allowed sailing to evolve to a point where we can travel great distances at very high speeds. My friends at Wallenius Willhelmson shipping line have told me that they see wind power as a very big part of their initiative to have 0% carbon footprint on their ships in the very near future.

So I'm sure you get the picture that things are very quiet here on il mostro...

Oops...

We will shortly be tacking onto port around the island of Moschny. The expected right hander never came through and Telefonica Blue is starting to look dangerous out to weather of us. It will be interesting to see who comes out ahead. Right now it looks as though we would still be ahead but if the wind goes any further left things could change very quickly. Either way its looking as though we might have a fight to the finish on our hands.

Will get back shortly.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB; received 26.06.09 1926 GMT

by Kenny Read (skipper)

I now know that I have heard it all. This race has been extended! The race organizers didn't think the previous 37,000 miles were long enough so this leg has been extended. Oh my God.

What makes it a bit of a bummer is the fact that we are leading, the wind is getting lighter, and the two light air rocket ships (Telefónica black and blue) are right behind us. Oh well. Never easy.

We have sailed a solid leg to date. Need to keep it up. Will report after the finish. A 30-mile triangle to do now and it is full on.

Just came down for a snack and a layer of clothes and to catch a breath.

Tacking, got to go.

Volvo Ocean Race

Rolex Farr 40 Worlds: Opposites Attract


Fleet racing downwind in front of La Maddelena islands. Image copyright Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

by Susan Maffei Plowden

It is a surreal experience sat at the windward mark on a media boat, waiting for the fleet to arrive, all the while listening to Bob Marley and the Wailers on the radio. Total relaxation. A complete world away from the intense battles and mind games being played out on the racecourse at Rolex Farr 40 Worlds and the frenzy of activity about to be unleashed. The penultimate day was no less enthralling than the first two. Barking Mad (USA) heads the table after another day of conservatism, whilst Nerone (ITA) stands six-points behind in second, after a performance of truly mercurial liberalism. Two opposing race strategies seemingly on a collision course.

With two races left, Joe Fly (ITA) in third is by no means out of it, but bridging a sixteen-point gap will require a god of Jupiter's standing to step in. Current World Champions, Mascalzone Latino (ITA), will go down fighting to the last, but a twenty-eight-point gap to the lead looks insurmountable even for the miracle workers on board.

Three races today in a building westerly, with an underlying sea swell running, made for excellent racing conditions. Again, we had three different winners. Vincenzo Onorato looked to have put yesterday behind him, carving out a fine victory on Mascalzone Latino. The next two races though were killers for his Championship aspirations, as Mascalzone scored 13, 13. Massimo Mezzaroma's Nerone picked the plum in race two, following a second in race one. All this good work was almost wiped out as he started the third race too early. In that race, Marco Rodolfi and TWT (ITA) finally showed their true potential passing Helmut Jahn and Flash Gordon (USA) on the final leg to win.

The first race was notable for Joe Fly being over early. Giovanni Maspero's crew could finish no better than nineteenth, pushing them back in the standings, while Mascalzone's first and Nerone's second place had enabled them to close the gap to Barking Mad which finished sixth.

Come the second race, conditions had picked up further and the tension on the racecourse was becoming tangible. As the initial beat unwound at the first windward rounding, Mascalzone's recovery looked to be short lived as she struggled round in mid-fleet. At the front, Nerone led with Barking Mad in fifth - a result that would level their scores. But the race was far from over.

Joe Fly was in second place. Maspero and tactician, Francesco Bruni, were sailing her like a blowfly, an annoying presence buzzing all around Mezzaroma and his tactician, Vasco Vascotto, engaging in every strategy possible to try to get past. Further back, the normally steadfast Barking Mad crew appeared to be pushing hard to limit the potential loss to Nerone. Sitting behind Goombay Smash and Flash Gordon at the first leeward rounding, Terry Hutchinson worked some magic to pass first Doug Douglass and then slip in front of Helmut Jahn at the second windward mark. The dogfighting was not finished by any means, but those two precious places saved meant the difference between Barking Mad leading overall at the end of the race or seeing their position eroded still further.

As it was, the third race of the day proved to be the more critical. In keeping with his character, Vascotto looked to seize the initiative early. One of a clutch of boats aiming to secure the pin end of the line, Nerone looked to have hit the line perfectly and at speed. A few seconds later, the heros to zeros were heading back to restart. One of two boats caught over early by the vigilant race officials. Quite what goes through the mind of top class tactician at this critical point in a World Championship regatta is anyone's guess. What marks them out though as better than the rest is their response.

With the fleet heading left, Nerone went right. By the first windward mark she was only up to nineteenth and it looked game-over. Barking Mad rounded in third, a position she never gave up. By the finish, though, Nerone had played the poker hand of poker hands and crossed the line in eighth. Some recovery. In the circumstances, bleeding only five-points to the Americans must have felt like the aftermath successful heart-surgery. Bruised but certainly not dead and buried.

Vascotto was his usual chirpy-self once back ashore and the great escapologist is certainly no apologist, "it was a really good day after two races and I think we sail the best race in the last one when we started over the line and we had a great recovery because we finished eighth. We are inside the championship still and I think tomorrow will be a great day. It will be a lot of fun, should be a lot of wind and we'll try to be ready for the fight."

Even when she won the Championship in 2003, Nerone did not opt for the steady approach, starting and finishing the event with some appalling scores. Vascotto is refreshing in his processing of their performances so far, "it's quite difficult to stay consistent, but I think that we have had a great Championship except for the third race of the first day and the third race of the last day. With a little more conservatism maybe we could be leading this championship, but we are second and still ready to fight." Wouldn't he be happier sailing more conservatively? "I'm not able to sail conservatively!" is the reply.

For Jim Richardson, a two-time World Champion in the Class, it could not be much better going into the last day. Averaging under four-points a race would have won all previous Rolex Farr 40 Worlds, so the Barking Mad crew is on the money at this event. Understandably, Richardson chooses his words carefully when describing their performance so far. There are still two races to go and the Championship is clearly his to lose, "I think we are sailing very well. I think we are sailing conservatively, we're not taking chances even though sometimes we start on the wrong end of the line, away from the bias, so that we do not get congested or influenced to be over the line."

Richardson is explaining a strategy that could not be more opposite in appearance to that displayed by Nerone, as he continues, "I'm not entirely surprised at some of the mistakes being made. People get aggressive and want to get to the start line bow out and sometimes it causes people to be over the line. We've taken sterns when we needed to, we've not pushed anything on the racecourse, we've figured it best to come in sixth rather than spend three hours in the protest room to maybe come in third. We're just trying to avoid the big mistakes and hope that people around us make them."

So far Barking Mad have made no mistakes. They are the exception in this Championship. The question tomorrow is conservatism versus liberalism, which one will win through. It is a fascinating struggle that has even the normally irrepressible Geoff Stagg almost speechless, "in my opinion it's Barking Mad's to lose. Everyone else around them has tripped. They have been so consistent, they are starting very clean and do not appear to be rattled on the water. But it's a World Championship. Nerone is barking at the door. Two races to go, only six-points in it. Anything can happen." We can't wait.

PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER RACE 8
Place, Boat Name, Owner, Nation, R1-R2-R3-R4-R5-R6-R7-R8-Points

1. BARKING MAD Jim Richardson USA, 1-6-4-1-6-6-3-3-30.00
2. NERONE Massimo Mezzaroma ITA, 5-1-13-2-4-2-1-8-36.00
3. JOE FLY Giovanni Maspero ITA, 4-5-5-4-1-19-2-6-46.00
4. MASCALZONE LATINO Vincenzo Onorato ITA, 2-10-2-9-8-1-13-13-58.00
5. TRANSFUSION Guido Belgiorno-Nettis AUS, 9-7-1-3-20-25-5-4-74.00
6. FLASH GORDON Helmut Jahn USA, 20-4-3-11-11-20-4-2-75.00
7. TWT Marco Rodolfi ITA, 6-9-14-19-13-13-7-1-82.00
8. TWINS Erik Maris FRA, 14-8-15-14-5-5-6-18-85.00
9. PLENTY Alex Roepers USA, 12,13,19,13,10,4,15-5-91.00
10. FIAMMA Alessandro Barnaba ITA, 3-12-7-10-24-10-16-12-94.00

Rolex Farr 40 Worlds

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 1535 GMT

by Gustav Morin

Minefield

Today “Life at the Extreme” got yet another meaning. We are getting closer to the finish and it’s not the weather, winds, waves or speed that are extreme. Not even the environment surrounding us is something I would raise my eyebrows for. But, a look in the sea chart does... It even makes me nervous. Not the least after I heard about our navigator Aksel Magdahl’s experiences from the area.

It is warning signs with “MINEFIELD”! Well well, that’s probably some old info; the mines should be gone and cleared out by now, someone said. Well, it is not quite like that.

“When I was sailing to St Petersburg with the 60 feet trimarans in the Oops Cup 2006 we were very close to sailing straight into a big mine. We were gybing and saw the mine just when the manoeuvre was over and with very little distance we managed to not hit it”, Aksel Magdahl says.

We are now in the same area and Aksel just went up on deck telling the guys to keep an extra eye open for strange objects in the water.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 1531 GMT

by Ian Walker (skipper)

Time is running down in the 08-09 Volvo Ocean Race. We have had the last in-port race, the last pro-am race, the last day of corporate sailing and the last Green Dragon party.

We have had the last leg start and the miles are running down on leg 10. There will be a big void when this is all over. No more sail changes, no more position reports, no more weather downloads, no more blogs, and no more navigational decisions.

There will be things I will not miss for a second - like losing miles to other boats, the lack of sleep, the hot, the cold, the damp and smelly clothes, the freeze dried food, moving sails and stacking gear, but it is amazing how quickly these will be forgotten. Memories that will last forever are the fantastic night skies, the camaraderie onboard, the countries we have been, the friends we have made, the fun the race has brought to so many who follow it - and of course the incredible sailing in these boats.

It is a privilege to sail in this fantastic race and I am very proud to have had the chance. I am proud of every member of our team and I am proud of what we have achieved together. I hope to have the chance to sail this race again.

Thank you to all the officials, the volunteers, the sponsors and the teams - without every one of you there could be no Volvo Ocean Race. Thanks also to everyone who has supported the Green Dragon. We promised to give it everything and to never ever give up and that is exactly what we have done. We haven't won this race but we have won many battles and achieved more than many dreamed possible. It has been a very special year.

Go the Dragon!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 1520 GMT

by Guy Salter

It's sunny it's calm were going over 11 kts but still it isn’t enough for the Ericsson 4 posse!

We can see the first four boats ahead - but by a fair margin and we can just make out the boats chasing behind. It's pretty dull onboard today - nothing really to fight for. I said we wouldn’t ever be able to cruise this boat - and we are not, but it does feel a lot like a delivery at the moment. Sleeping is easy and aided by a bottle of port we have had with lunch to celebrate the 1st birthday of the thoroughbred - or best of breed in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. Yes the mighty Ericsson 4 is one today and it transpires that we have almost (within a couple of hundred) achieved 50,000nm in the girl!

That would be an extreme total of miles for a travelling carpet salesman in his Ford Mondeo or whatever is the vehicle of choice of those who wear suits and live off food from motorway service stations. Whilst bedding down in travel inns for the majority of their working week.

Ericsson 4 has served us very well and we hope we can finish off the last 100 in a respectful manner deserved of a true world-class champion, which is what this yacht is

Good job Ericsson 4 - the pleasure has been all of ours - Happy birthday

Volvo Ocean Race

Audi MedCup: Live the Dream with Quantum Racing

The chance to "Live the Dream" and take a crewing place among some of the best sailors in the world as an integral part of the Audi MedCup champions team on Quantum Racing at the Portugal Trophy regatta is one which is gathering a huge number of entries worldwide.


Quantum Racing, Marseille Trophy, 11 06 2009. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

It’s a concept which has struck a chord with sailors around the globe. The prize is a money can’t buy role on board Quantum Racing during the Portugal Trophy (Portimao, August 18-23). That is… not a VIP role on the media practice day, nor a passenger’s role trying not to trip over the afterguard at the back of the boat, but a bona fide integral role on the team, including three practice days before racing starts and then racing each and every day through the Portugal regatta aboard the famous black and green Audi MedCup champion boat.

Quantum Sails say that so far they have over 300 entries, both in essay form and as YouTube videos, and they are pouring in all the time.

“The consistent theme running through so many of them is how excited and enthused they are with this as an opportunity to see how the very best sailors in the world actually work and what it is like to be part of the team.” Explains Ed Reynolds, Quantum’s President and project manager for Quantum Racing.

The entries are reviewed by a cross section of editors and media people, Quantum representatives as well as Terry Hutchinson and crew members.

“Certainly there is a need for the winner to fit in and be part of the crew, to do a job on the boat and so from that viewpoint they do need to be competent sailors.” Reynolds continues, “The great thing as well is that everyone on the crew ‘gets it’, they understand. The comments and feedback we have had from them is that they are so proud of what they do but also realise that to others it might appear like a secret club. On the one hand I don’t think many people really do have a solid understanding of just how high the standard is across the board at the AudiMedCup, and by that I mean not just the sailors, but the media, the race officers, the shore teams, everything.”

“I don’t think there is any risk to the team’s performance. This is not something the team feel burdened by at all. They are not just mercenaries paid to get a result. Their efforts and talents are way beyond that, and so many times with this team you are reminded that they go above and beyond on so many things.” Reynolds states.

“So many people are excited about this Quantum Racing projects. For whatever reason one of the weaknesses of our sport is that it is seen as exclusive, so we do all we can to break that perception. We sponsor things like the female college sailor of the year, and disabled sailing, but we want to open up the access to how cool it is.”

Audi MedCup

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 1204 GMT

by Gustav Morin

Sleepy people

It is not only Magnus Olsson who is tired on Ericsson 3. It feels like everyone is taking every opportunity they can to get some sleep. We are running a standby watch system with three hours off and six hours on, but if there is not much happening some of the guys can go to sleep during the watch.

We have learned from the leg to Marstrand where everyone got extremely tired at the same time. But it feels a bit strange to come on deck when three guys are lying around sleeping.

I am also tired, having only slept two hours in my bunk since we left Stockholm and a couple of minutes on and off when I, like always, crash with the computer in my lap. I start to think about something to write and suddenly my thoughts just get more and more crazy and soon I’m off to never-never land. If I close my eyes and relax, it takes about 15 seconds to fall asleep.

The positions have not changed much the last couple of hours. Telefónica Black and PUMA are still a couple of miles in front. Blue and Ericsson 4 around five miles up to windward.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 1310 GMT

by Ian Walker (skipper)

We have just passed over a rocky ledge between two islands and I had my heart in my mouth as the depth dropped to 1.9 metres below the keel - I prayed the chart was accurate and breathed a sigh of relief as the depth shot back up. That's enough of those scares for one day. Other than that no real change out here in the Gulf of Finland.

We have good wind, flat water and the sun is shining. Believe it or not, we have still not done a sail change all leg! We were hoping this could be a new Volvo Race record if we maintained it to St Petersburg but unfortunately, the organisers have added an extra 30 mile triangle to the course which means we will need other sails.

This is very unpopular with the crew as there is nothing worse than seeing the mileage to the finish increase - particularly on the last leg when all you want to do is finish. It is especially unpopular with Phil Harmer who, believe it or not, is flying straight out at 1900 to race in the 18ft skiff worlds in France on Sunday!

Anyway I don't suppose another 30 miles will kill us after doing 37,000. Hopefully we will hold off Delta Lloyd although they are gaining rapidly up behind and to windward.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 1032 GMT

by Ian Walker (skipper)

We are still yet to crack sheets or change a sail on this leg as we sail hard on the wind to St Petersburg.

It doesn't look like that will change in the next day either. The only activity for the crew outside trimming and steering is of course stacking.

Sailing in a piece of water only 35 miles across and with many windshifts has lead to an abundance of tacks and the bad backs are reappearing as we have to repeatedly carry all the sails and gear from one side to the other.

It has been a good night for us though as the north side of the course has paid hugely. We were north on the Finnish coast and put many miles on the Russians whilst also passing Delta Lloyd. Other than that it is a pure drag race and we sit and watch as the leaders draw away and Delta Lloyd now is slowly pulling back closer to us. They are currently just under two miles dead astern.

It is a beautiful day with good wind and flat water and as I write this, we have a little over 100 miles of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 to go.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 0959 GMT

by Guy Salter

The fleet is spread over the Gulf of Finland but we can still see the majority of the fleet.

Overall, we have not faired the best this morning, but a 15-degree shift could change things dramatically.

With only 160 nm to the finish (not including the flexi course triangle that may be included at the finish) it could be hard to close the ground - but then again as with all legs - the closer to land, the more unpredictable the breeze.

We are also expecting a significant reduction in wind speed - which also put the cat amongst the pigeons - so to speak!

We have had a very easy trip - to date the only sail changes we have had were on the loop at the start - to go this long without action is exceptionally rare. The sun is blazing and the water is amazingly flat - I guess we are more used to the open ocean - which is a long way to the west of us right now.

Overall very pleasant - if not bordering on the boring.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG TEN DAY 2 QFB: received 26.06.09 0812GMT

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

The left side of the track has been paying off hugely, more wind pressure and also the wind coming more from the left. We were hung out to dry early this morning together with Ericsson 4, we had no pressure and the three boats pipped inside us.

Still close, so it will be intense. The black boat has done extremely well, I reckon she is he quickest in the fleet in this conditions. From day one, we have been struggling to match her on the beat. Anyway would be nice if they can get a podium place on a leg, they deserve it - (but better behind us) we have been hiking (crew on the rail) since the start, to squeeze every millimetre out of the boat. Hopefully we will get some tight reaching in, as we know we are quick in that stuff.

Saw many spectator boats from Finland this morning, and an "old" Whitbread veteran and friend, Marcus Mustelin was among them. Once you have done this race once, you just can't let it go.

140 miles to go, maybe they are going to lengthen the course, which will be good for us, as we are in fourth place, so more miles means better odds to catch up.

Anyway, in less than a day this race is history, amazing the days have gone by so quickly. The boat is not even a year old, and we will have just over 47.000 miles on the clock, including the training days, when we arrive in St.Petersburg!

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLACK LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB: received 25.06.09 2351 GMT

by Roger Nilsson (navigator)

Telefónica Black did not get off the starting line, just outside Sandhamn, as well as we normally do. After the traditional ‘show off’ loop, reaching fast both ways, we left the massive spectator fleet behind together with many nice memories from this first Volvo Ocean Race stop in Stockholm.

With only Delta Lloyd trailing us at the last turning mark, we set off in a long upwind climb for Russia in a modest northeasterly breeze. All day we were struggling to catch up but our attempt to sail slightly low and fast did not really work out, even if it looked good for a while..

When we finally tacked, two miles west of the famous lighthouse Ristna, on the Estonian island Dago, we had only Dragon behind us, as we really could not impress anyone else with our boatspeed.

Since then we have tacked twice, on good shifts, but we on Telefónica Black are still a couple of miles behind the leading pack and are intensely looking for a passing lane...time will tell...

Our energetic foredeck crew is not feeling too well as an infected wisdom tooth is bothering him for a few days...not much Dr Nilson can do for him as he already is on antibiotics and painkillers...poor young man.....

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB: received 25.06.09 2243 GMT

by Gustav Morin

“We had to duck them”

Before PUMA tacked, they went closer to shore than any other boat. A couple of minutes ago we concluded that that was not the perfect move. We met them on port tack and from being behind, we were now a couple of hundred metres ahead, we now just had to duck them.

We have had dinner onboard and we are now staying awake with eating ridiculous amounts of chocolate and drinking coffee.

“Well, actually it’s not too bad at all. I started this leg with sleeping two hours, which is about twice as much as I slept the last leg, so I'm very happy, Richard Mason commented when he and his watch mate Martin Krite got up from their bunks a couple of hours ago.

Aksel Magdahl has not slept that much yet. One second he is behind the screens of the nav computers and the other second he is on deck with the portable screen. He is living his dream but even so, he has some issues with motivation.

“It is a bit crazy. This kind of job is the best I can think of and sailing this race is a lifetime opportunity, the coolest thing you can do in sailing if you ask me. Even so, I’m a bit fed up now. It would have been so much more fun if I could have a couple of months off and then do this leg. But that’s not the case and we just have to keep on struggling.

Volvo Ocean Race