Thursday, 21 May 2009

VOR: Escaping the Ice Box

Watch leader Neal McDonald at the helm and navigator Ian Moore. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing.

by Lucy Harwood

It was a long night onboard for the fleet as they navigated their way along the ice exclusion zone. The shifty conditions meant yet another re-shuffle in the fleet.

Conditions ranged from 12 to 24 knots, forcing many tacks during the night. They are now approaching the final section of the ice box, and will hope to turn the corner into the downwind conditions that wait for them on the other side. But the route was not as simple as the crews may have hoped, choosing when to tack to starboard to the corner of the ice box would require a whole lot of luck. Volvo’s race expert Mark Chisnell described the issue, “It required perfect anticipation of the wind shift, any time spent reaching, or on starboard tack after the shift arrived would be a loss maker. In the end, no one made it to the corner cleanly, everyone had to take several hitches to the south”.

Whilst Telefonica Black and Ericsson 4 have made the most progress the other boats stay within 20 – 25 miles of each other. Ericsson 3 is suffering at the back of the pack after their collision with a whale, which damaged the daggerboard and their keel. The daggerboard has been replaced as they carried a spare onboard, but the loss in speed due to the damage of the keel will continue, just as Green Dragon suffered the same fate during Leg 1 to Cape Town.

Once the fleet turns the corner from the ice box, they head north-east and into the low pressure system that is bubbling away. It should provide a freight train for the fleet all the way to the finish in Galway, current forecasts suggest we can expect weekend finishes, and some hairy conditions along the way! “We’re looking forward to getting round this ice gate and turning downwind. Where hopefully we will be a little more competitive. We can’t wait to get to Galway, I’ve been speaking to the guys back home and everything is setup and they can’t wait for us all to arrive,” said Skipper Ian Walker.

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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