Monday, 18 May 2009

VOR: Freighter Blocks Team Delta Lloyd after Start of 7th Leg

Team Delta Lloyd passing the freighter. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Diana Bogaards

After the start of the seventh leg on Saturday May 16 2009, a large freighter blocked Team Delta Lloyd's first mark rounding in the Boston Harbor. The Dutch entry was forced to wait, while the rest of the fleet speeded up on the run to the bottom mark. Delta Lloyd was seventh to disappear in the fog on her way to Galway/Ireland. Shortly after this eventful beginning of the 2,550 miles race, she closed the gap and passed Ericsson 3 and Green Dragon. The crossing of the North-Atlantic might take up ten days.

"It will be hard to get out of the harbor, because there is a big tanker coming in", said watch leader Stu Wilson (NZL) after the morning briefing and he was right. He also predicted an interesting competition up to the scoring gate: "Weather-wise we will get a lot of everything, so there will be many sail changes."

"My target stays the same", unveiled skipper Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) on the dock. "We need to sail well and arrive safely. We should not lose contact with the fleet and not make too many mistakes. And coming to Europe still offers us many opportunities later on, as there are lots of corners and islands that leave room for tactical options. But before we head to Europe, we like to thank Boston for the great stopover we had."

Watch leader Nick Bice (AUS) foresaw a slow trip across the North-Atlantic: "It won't be a race straight down the line, which gives us a chance. There will be a few park-ups and passing lanes that cause opportunities and re-starts in certain areas. But the North-Atlantic is pretty unpredictable."

Meanwhile, Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak kept his mind busy with all the weather challenges coming up: "There will be two important moments. The first one is the passage of the southern point of Nova Scotia." A strong current runs around the peninsula and the coastal strip is well-known for its light conditions. If Team Delta Lloyd can take advantage of the current once it get there, it needs to decide how far inshore it will go. That decision is to be made shortly after the top of the whale exclusion zone at the beginning of the leg.

Ice exclusion zone
"The second moment is the southern passage of the ice exclusion zone", continued Verbraak. This section is positioned south of Newfoundland. At this moment, the weather models show a large high-pressure area that will stop the fleet there. Verbraak: "The wind will drop and we will have a favorable gulf stream. We have to pay attention to the details."

Scoring gate
The scoring gate is on the north/south line with St. John's. It brings in the next challenge, as Wilson explained: "If you go for a big speed to get first at the scoring gate, you will have a bad angle afterwards and drop on the leader board. That means we will have to make a choice between scoring points or a better position on the long term."

The high-pressure area is followed by the next test; a depression that is building up along the Portuguese coast. The question is how that will influence the final part of the race. Verbraak: "Yesterday, it seemed that we had to beat up all the way to the finish and this morning it looked like a run, so we can't say anything about it."

"We are motivated", said Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED) a day before the start to Galway/Ireland. "Our third place in the In-Port helps of course and we also have three new sails. It is a late leg, so we need to make sure we stay down to earth in terms of safety. Everything is checked and we once again discussed the maneuvers. If you are able to reef safely for example, you can push longer as well."

In addition to title sponsor Delta Lloyd, the Dutch/Irish syndicate is also supported by Chieftain Group, Tommy Hilfiger, OHRA Verzekeringen, Port of Rotterdam, Discovery Channel, Weather News and Hemels van der Hart.

Team Delta Lloyd
Volvo Ocean Race

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