Saturday, 23 May 2009

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG SEVEN DAY 6 QFB: received 21.05.09 1501 GMT

Justin Slattery checks the sails, onboard Green Dragon, on leg 7 from Boston to Galway. Image copyright Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

Over the Handlebars

It feels like we are in the North Atlantic now. The wind built to over 30 knots ahead of the front but with a nice sea state we managed to keep the masthead spinnaker up as far as the last ice gate.

Since then we peeled to the fractional spinnaker and enjoyed an awesome ride as the waves rapidly built. Enough was enough and after one wipe out we have throttled back a bit by flying a flatter fractional zero spinnaker.

Boat speeds are solid twenties, often 25 and sometimes into the thirties. We are nearly pointing directly at Galway so life is good. This is what I had in mind when people talked to me about the Volvo Ocean race - hard, fast running in lots of wind. It is only the third time we have had these conditions all race. However much fun it is on deck there is always the nagging feeling that you are on the edge of control. You are heavily reliant on your equipment and teamwork.

Down below it feels and sounds horrendous. Everything is crashing and banging and the boat flexes this way and that. My ear is finely tuned to the sound of carbon cracking and I jump up at the slightest 'different' noise down below. So far so good however. Rest will be very hard to come by between here and Galway but at least we know we only have a few days of this to go. The miles are tumbling rapidly and our quest to sail back into Galway Bay ever closer. We may have sailed over 30,000 miles but we are going to be made to fight very hard for the last 1000 miles.

Volvo Ocean Race

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