Tuesday, 17 March 2009

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG FIVE DAY 31 QFB: received 16.03.09 0507 GMT

Wrapping up warm in the Southern Ocean onboard Green Dragon, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

It’s been a fairly brutal 48 hours with winds consistently over 30 knots made up of cold air from the south. Add to this some very confused seas and it has been a perfect recipe for breaking boats, masts, sails and people.

We sailed a slightly conservative line to avoid the peak winds of the low pressure and have throttled back on several occasions as the slamming of the hull became intolerable. This will cost us precious miles, particularly as we are first to fall off of the system, but it is a decision I am happy with. Deep in the Southern Ocean 1000 miles from anywhere is not the place for hoisting the 'hero' flag.

Boat and crew remain in good shape and now that the wind is under 30 and the seas have flattened off we are able to hoist the spinnaker and push on again. It feels like this leg is nearly over but we still have 3000 miles to go and we need a boat in full working order.

Life onboard has improved in the last 12 hours with the conditions, but nobody will be sad to turn the corner and head north. Most clothes are wet, sleeping bags are damp, the boat is full of condensation so there is little reprieve down below.
There is little comfort in what food we have and emails from home or news from the outside world are the only things to break the monotony. There is noticeably less chat amongst the guys as everyone is in survival mode just personally trying to get through the next few days.

It looks like the elements are saving one last strong throw of the dice in the shape of more gale force winds, which will hit us just before the Horn. We will remain cautious and respectful of where we are in the world and the boat we are in. That is the way we are going to get to Rio fastest.

Volvo Ocean Race

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