Friday, 27 March 2009

VOR: Leg 5 Day 41 - Last Miles to Rio de Janeiro for the Green Dragon crew

Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker relaxes in the final stages 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 Lucy Harwood

Green Dragon is just 438 miles from Rio de Janeiro and the end of an epic leg, the longest ever in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race. Conditions are still holding with a sea breeze which they hope will bring them all the way to the finish. But the final few miles into Rio can be tricky and the potential for being becalmed just miles from the finish is a reality for the whole fleet.

Ericsson 3 was first to cross the finish line in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro this morning at 1037 GMT. But only after a very slow final few hours onboard as they drifted into Rio. For the young Nordic crew this is their first win in the race so far and a victory for their young navigator who took a northerly gamble in the Southern Ocean which paid dividends. Ericsson 4 and PUMA are still to finish, both struggling with the light conditions, as they slow to around 4 knots.

Green Dragon is still sailing on at a comfortable 12 knots and they have managed to sail 234 nm in the last 24hours, one of the fastest days onboard for the last week. There are still two areas of high pressure that they must negotiate over the next 24 – 36 hours, and they will be keeping an eye over their shoulder to Telefonica Blue who are playing catch up to their east. But with just a couple of days remaining the end is in sight for the Dragon.

Green Dragon’s skipper Ian Walker commented last night, “Three days of sailing along with no wind does test the patience. We need some miles in hand to be able to defend fourth from Telefónica Blue, as they may have a better angle towards the finish once they are out of the high pressure system. Hopefully we can stay ahead of them, if there is any justice in this world then we will! Right now we have more wind than the models suggest, we are making good ground to the finish, the boat is moving and the miles are coming down."

Talking about the food rationing on board Green Dragon Ian Walker said, "there is now a black market in liquorice all sorts and most things to be honest! We packed for 40 days which wasn’t a bad estimate and we may finish in 42 or 43 days.”

Note from SailRaceWin: In audio commentary with Volvo Ocean Race media, Ian Walker commented that he had found, while checking facts and figures, "that sailing from Qingdao to Rio is further than sailing from the UK to New Zealand. I realised then what we had taken on over the last 40 days."

Leg Five Day 41: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) FIN
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) 46
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +46
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +438
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +626

Delta Lloyd NED (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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