Tuesday, 19 May 2009

VOR: Green Dragon Heading for the Scoring Gate

by Lucy Harwood

The exit out of Boston was a challenging passage for Green Dragon, as they weaved their way through hundreds of lobster pots and the container ships which lined the route out. Add a drop in temperature and a thick fog and the start has not been an easy one. The fleet headed out around the whale exclusion zone and then headed east towards Nova Scotia. Navigating the lobster pots was not an easy task and it turned into a bigger challenge for Green Dragon after they became entangle with several lobster pots. They cleared two of them, but the damage to the port daggerboard was clear, as one line had sawn its way through the leading edge leaving them with a 250 cut in the laminate. The repair is now complete and the crew are now working on pulling back valuable miles on the pack ahead, they now lay in seventh place 30 miles behind current leader PUMA. “This is a big disappointment as we were in sight of five boats and sailing well. We can only hope that we don’t lose touch with the fleet and live to fight another day,“ commented Skipper Ian Walker.

For the time being the fleet have been in a drag race as they head towards the scoring gate, which they are due to pass tomorrow morning. They will then focus on the ice exclusion zone, where the drag race should end and the tactical options will start to come into play. Current forecasts suggest a big low pressure system waiting for the fleet once they have navigated their way around the ice box, a fast a furious downwind sprint to the finish in Galway looks to be on the cards.

What has the first weekend been like?
It has been an experience lots of fog, low visibility lots of stuff on the radar and this morning we are off the South coast of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately we caught a few and one damaged our port daggerboard. About 6 – 8 inches into the board.

Is that slowing you down?
Yes it is slowing us down by about 5 – 10 %, we are making repairs and looking into different options, but we are confident we will be able to get it back in the water.

What about the weather, cold?
The water up here has dropped down to about 6 degrees, which means that everything is cold everything is wet. There is fog everywhere, it is hard to keep stuff dry and it was a pretty bitter night on deck. The water is only going to get colder so we are going to have to get used to it.

When it gets that cold, is there a natural rush for hats and gloves?
Everyone is covered in neoprene, neoprene heads, neoprene gloves, you have to try and do everything to keep the cold out. It is bitter on deck, and we are expecting the temperatures to drop even more, so it isn’t going to warm up anytime soon!

What about the fog, does that put you on edge?
Fog scares everybody, especially when you are traveling at 20 knots and you only have 100 – 200 yards of visibility. It is very confusing, very disorientating. It makes is more difficult to steer, more difficult to keep the numbers up. There is always the chance that something will come leaping out the fog. But we have the radar on and we are keeping a good watch with that. We are using the AIS was well which is a system for tracking big ships, so far so good.

It makes the radar your favourite piece of equipment onboard or is that the heater?
The radar is our friend as we don’t have a heater!

Finally, does Boston feel long gone, now you are in race mode.
Everyone is concentrating on arriving in Galway and getting there in a good position. Everyone had a good stop over in Boston, but it is time to move on everyone’s thoughts are going forward.

Leg Seven Day 3: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
1. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) DTF 2060
2. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) + 1 nm
3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) + 1 nm
4. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) + 2 nm
5. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) + 6 nm
6. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 21 nm
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) + 30 nm
8. Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

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