Saturday 6 June 2009

VOR: Bouwe Bekking - Last Three Weeks of the Volvo Ocean Race

Bouwe Bekking on board Telefonica Blue. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Javier Sobrino

It may be just 1,250 nautical miles from Galway (Ireland) to Marstrand (Sweden), Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09, but for Bouwe Bekking and the Telefonica Blue team it's more than simple distance: it's a fight for eight valuable points and another chance to win.

When comparing this leg to others, like the 'monster leg' from China to Brazil (12,300 nm), this one could be seen as a simple 'tourist trip' for the VO70s, but in this race everything counts, as Bouwe says: 'Of course we would like to win the leg, as that will mean gaining points on Ericsson 4 and Puma. In that sense it's not much different from any other legs.'

However there are many differences between these European legs and the longer offshore legs, as any sailor may tell you. Bouwe summed it up nicely: 'You can say it is different as it is much shorter than the previous ones, which means if you are ahead there is less time to get passed by other boats but clearly, it is also the other way around if you are behind. The other difference is that we go around a lot of corners: the southwest tip of Ireland and England, the northern tip of Holland and Denmark, so cutting corners means less miles.'

For the first time in a long while, Bouwe will sail through home waters on his way to Marstrand, making this leg something special for the Dutch sailor: 'It will be nice to sail through home waters. I am familiar with them and hope that will give us that little extra something that could make the difference!'

Knowing part of the route means knowing the difficulties along the way. 'On the way from Galway to Marstrand there are lots of difficulties: huge tides, in some places up to 5 knots, navigating the rocky corners of Ireland and England, shallow banks to pass in the channel, and lots of shipping. Not an easy route at all!'

But there is still more to consider on the 1,250 nautical miles of this leg: the weather conditions. 'Normally you would believe the weather history and it should be relatively light, as we are getting close to high summer. But we have already seen a couple of times in this race where the history didn't match the actual weather...'

As of Saturday's start of Leg 8, and until the finish in St Petersburg (Russia) on 27 June, there is exactly 2,175 nautical miles, three weeks and three legs -plus an in-port race- up for grabs. That's 28 points if you win everything, and considering the leader Ericsson 4 stands only 13 points ahead of Telefonica Blue, one can say that the battle's not over yet. 'There are still 28 points to go, it will get harder, but it's still possible,' Bouwe remarks. 'In the last race ABN was last in Gothenburg. I'm not saying that will happen, Ericcson 4 has been sailing very well, but if we get a scenario like that and we win, the pressure will immensely increase for them.' In order to get one step closer to that goal, the first thing for Bouwe Bekking's team to do is clear: 'Keep a very close eye on all the opponents and sail conservatively, stay in between the opponents and the finish.'

But although the Spanish team is focused on closing the gap with the leader, they don't forget who is standing just behind them: Puma, with only one point less on the leaderboard. 'I still think it is too early to focus on them,' Bouwe says. 'Of course we would like to beat them and keep our 2nd place, but we still are looking at first place right now.'

On board Telefonica Blue there will be no major changes for the remaining legs, as Bouwe says: 'No changes to the boat, we are going to card our last new sail and that depends on the final weather forecast just before we leave. In terms of food, we're going to keep our freeze-dried diet from Galway to Marstrand. We are not allowed to take any stores or any equipment onboard once we are in Marstrand, so it means freeze-dried for the part to Stockholm as well. The last leg will be a mix of the two.'

Saturday at 14:00 GMT the action starts again as Telefonica Blue and the six other VO70's leave Galway on the way to Mastrand. Bouwe recognizes that he fell in love with this ancient little city in the west coast of Ireland: 'Together with Alicante, Galway has set a great example for all the other stopovers for how this Volvo show can be done perfectly. In three words: an excellent stopover!'

Bouwe Bekking
Volvo Ocean Race

Musto Australian Etchells Winter Championships - Day Two

Race 3 start line - Musto Etchells Australian Winter Championship 2009. Image copyright /AUS.

by Rob Kothe

Friday when Mark Johnson (Roulette) came off the water having sailed into second place in the Musto Etchells Australian Winter Championship 2009, he said ‘the way we got around the course today, if we’d had more breeze, we might have killed someone, so we will be happy to see light conditions again tomorrow’.

Saturday in light conditions with seven knots of breeze, Johnson was second boat at the top mark. Damien King (Barry) was 17th and series leader New Zealand's Alastair Gair (Velsheda) was heading back to the dock.

Gair and another 12 boats were black flagged at the start of Race 3 of the series.

Attempt one to get Race 3 underway was aborted when the breeze shifted twenty degrees from 040 to 060, just fifteen seconds before the start. Attempt two resulted in a General Recall of the fleet.

Attempt three started under Black Flag and thirteen ‘toey’ crews paid the penalty, their afternoon’s sailing ending prematurely.

At the top mark, Mooloolaba sailor Peter Hollis (Heaven Can Wait) rounded in first place. Johnson with Bucky Smith, a member of the 2009 Etchells World Championship crew calling tactics, followed.

Another Mooloolaba local, Charles Piggott (Magic) was third, then came Rapscallion, B Squared, Funky Cold Medina and Fifteen.

As the fleet rounded the bottom mark, the wind speed was holding at seven knots from 060.

Heaven Can Wait extended its lead over Roulette. Johnson’s crew was a picture of concentration as they managed a conservative, but clean mark rounding. Blairgowrie sailor David Lawrence (Temptress) had a sensational run picking up a nice shift, and moved up from 16th place to third.

Fourth was Funky Cold Medina; then B Squared, Rapscallion, Tango and Fifteen. Mark Bulka (Critical Balance) was tenth, Steve O’Rourke (Panther) was 12th and Damien King 15th.

At the top mark for the last time, the course boat signalled a ten-degree wind shift to the left and the repositioning of the finishing boat.

Peter Hollis extended his lead from Mark Johnson. Chris Hampton (Tango) had moved from seventh to third on the second beat, David Clark (Fifteen) had moved from eighth to fourth. Vaughan Prentice was now fifth, with Mark Bulka eighth and Damien King 13th.

But it was all Hollis. In six knots of breeze he looked unlikely to lose the rig in his boat, or the race for that matter.

Hollis (Heaven Can Wait) extended and held his lead to the finish line, crossing ahead of Mark Johnson (Roulette).

Sydney sailor Jervis Tilley (Bushfire) stormed down the run moving up from sixth to cross the line in third, followed by Vaughan Prentice (Funky Cold Medina) and David Clark (Fifteen). Damien King (Barry) moved up several places to finish the race in 11th.

Provisionally, Mark Johnson (Roulette) is now the clear leader of the series with finishes of 5,3,2.

Second is David Clarke (3,6,5) with Damien King (7,2,11) in third. On equal points with King is Vaughan Prentice.

Dockside Mark Johnson was smiling. 'We came into the regatta with no expectations. We'd all moved back on the boat. Nik Burfoot had moved back from bow and Christian was coming in new, having never worked a US boat set up. I had not helmed for 15 months, having campaigned midboat with Jud Smith to win the North Americans. We finished fifth at the 2009 Worlds.

'We started conservatively, which was good today ... started about two thirds of the way down the line ... worked the middle of the course up the first leg. We had speed and we did not have anyone dump on us at all. Then we did a much better job today of getting down the runs.

'Peter Hollis and Bucky Smith did a great job and deserved to win, but we were very happy to take second. It was a great day, but there is a lot more racing to go in this regatta and we could be the ones getting a black flag tomorrow.

Damien King, looked relieved when he came ashore. 'We were lucky to escape with an 12th today. A boat that was later black flagged came in very fast on us at the start ... well over the line, buried us and then camped on us for ages, before withdrawing from the race.

'So we were not much better than midfleet at the first mark and had to work our way forward.

'Now we are half way through the regatta, so we will see how it goes tomorrow. We are just happy to be in the running.'

Equal on points with King and his crew is Vaughan Prentice. 'Light airs sailing. Definitely hard work, but better than tricky winter westerlies. Our best-ever result here was second in 2006, so we are pleased to be in the top group with probably two more races to sail.

'Nick Behrens is doing a great job on tactics for us. We have good speed with some really good light weather sails.

'Tomorrow will be a big day.'

And he is right. The first race is scheduled for 10am. There are a variety of forecasts from 20 knot north westerlies to 10 knot south easterlies, but with some light drizzle already, the second of those predictions seems more likely.

Musto Etchells Australian Winter Championship 2009
4th - 7th June
Series Summary (provisional)

Pl B# Crew From Boat Name 1 2 3 Tot
1 49 M. Johnson, N. Burfoot & C. Allen Sydney Roulette 5 3 2 10
2 15 D. Clark, S. Leonard & A. Smith Sydney Fifteen 3 6 5 14
3 11 D. King, J. Ware, S. Cunnington & A. Butler Melbourne Barry 7 2 12 21
4 32 V. Prentice, D. Hutchison, N. Brehrens & P. Manning Brisbane Funky Cold Medina 13 4 4 21
5 44 M. Bulka, S. Young & P. Bulka Melbourne Critical Balance 9 13 10 32
6 43 J. Sheehan, R. West & R. Vidgen Pittwater Resurgent 15 7 14 36
7 47 J. Tilly, P. Davidson & J. Arnold Sydney Bushfire 27 9 3 39
8 37 P. Gardner, S. Barlow & R. Allanson Sydney Humpback 19 8 16 43
9 41 N. Nattrass, C. Brook & A. Elliott Sydney Two Speed 10 22 11 43
10 39 D. Rose, S. Backhouse & T. Rose Brisbane Fair Bump Play On 23 11 15 49
11 19 C. Hampton, B. Morrison-Jack & M. Toner-Joyce Melbourne Tango 4 40 7 51
12 46 P. Hollis, B. Smith & J. Warlow Mooloolaba Heaven Can Wait 8 44 1 53
13 34 T. Woods, P. McNeill & D. Gleadhill Lake Macquarie Echo Beach 17 14 25 56
14 28 S. Gunther, J. Collingwood & B. Jones Melbourne Magic Buzz 20 16 20 56
15 22 R. Lloyd, M. Turner & P. Dowdney Melbourne The Nurse 18 21 17 56
16 30 A. Gair, D. Ridley, D. Scott & A. De Fluiter Gulf Harbour Velsheda 2 1 55\BFD 58
17 16 D. Lawrance, R. Browne & B. Hawkes Blairgowrie Temptress 16 33 9 58
18 09 S. Ellis, J. Dudok Van Heel & J. Brinkley Hong Kong Tian Hua 26 5 29 60
19 02 G. Boyd, J. Boyd & A. May Lake Macquarie B Squared 30 27 6 63
20 20 J. Muysken, P. Grundy & A. O'Connell Sydney Etch 25 12 28 65
21 33 N. Paterson, S. Board & J. Chilman Brisbane Waterloo Bay 39 10 23 72
22 05 D. Healey, A. Deeks & G. Van Luteren Brisbane Rapscallion 44 18 13 75
23 54 M. Bradford, P. Merrington & G. Torpy Brisbane Roni 12 15 55\BFD 82
24 52 C. Williams, P. Heyes & N. DeBerque Gosford Trekka 14 47 21 82
25 53 S. O'Rourke, S. Backhouse & J. Torpy Cronulla Panther 37 39 8 84
26 17 I. Audsley, G. Flatman & J. VanDer Schalk Pittwater Kalika 28 25 33 86
27 40 L. Kennedy, R. Bassett & T. Swinburne Gulf Harbour Addiction 31 38 19 88
28 14 M. Sanders, J. Sill & S. McInally Southport Just Relax 34 20 34 88
29 38 M. McCann, N. Wittey, S. Quigley & JC Strong Sydney Carabella lV 11 24 55\BFD 90
30 04 D. Williams, D. Cooney & A. Kiely Lake Macquarie Vertigo 38 28 24 90
31 50 D. Wilson, R. Leslie & J. Browne Gosford The Don 33 30 27 90
32 23 M. Dagge, M. Hansen & J. Willis Brisbane Una Mas 1 37 55\BFD 93
33 35 G. Taylor, G. Wharington & S. Jarvin Mornington Magpie 6 32 55\BFD 93
34 26 M. Thornburrow, G. Farrell, M. Chew & A. Service Hong Kong Dreamon 24 19 55\BFD 98
35 13 G. Smith, B. Shoebridge & R. Smith Swan River Tusk 46 26 26 98
36 03 P. Coleman, W. Dixon & I. Gartley Melbourne Mid Gybe Crisis 35 29 35 99
37 48 D. Biggar & M. Obrian Mooloolaba Fruit Cake 42 42 18 102
38 10 R. Coxon, D. Ritchard & I. Winter Sydney 3 Gone Missing 32 41 32 105
39 55 G. Forgan-Smith, G. Wakefield & B. Foot Gold Coast Betelgeuse 53 17 36 106
40 21 N. Knezic, D. Bretherton & M. Robertson Melbourne Count Boris' Secret 29 23 55\BFD 107
41 12 B. Sheridan & B. Moore Swan River Butterfly 21 34 55\BFD 110
42 24 P. Minter, J. Minter & R. Bull Sydney Crews Control 50 35 30 115
43 29 L. O'Connor, B. Averay & L. Steers Melbourne J for Jig 41 43 31 115
44 42 J. Denton, L. Birch & P. Bailey Gosford Ivy 43 36 37 116
45 31 C. Piggott, W. Myles & G. Black Mooloolaba Magic 47 49 22 118
46 27 D. Hardy, B. Northcote & J. Northcote Sydney Foolhardy 36 31 55\BFD 122
47 18 J. Plante, M. Dunstan, N. Garland & x. y Pittwater North Star 22 48 55\BFD 125
48 45 P. Meehan, J. Hallam & B. Sneddon Brisbane Forceful 49 46 40 135
49 25 A. Telford, S. Schafer & G. Smith Melbourne Never Enough 51 52 39 142
50 36 J. McLean, S. McClure, R. Caldwell & J. McLean Brisbane Touch N Go 52 55\DNF 38 145
51 51 N. Hudson, J. Curry & M. Jamison Gold Coast Trilogy 54 50 41 145
52 07 J. Ward, D. McCaughey & M. Roberts Adelaide Concubine 45 45 55\BFD 145
53 08 T. Martin, G. Thomson & P. Braithwaite Mooloolaba Three Ring Circus 40 51 55\BFD 146
54 01 J. Middleton, N. Willis & T. Robba Brisbane. OZI 48 55\DNF 55\BFD 158

Musto Etchells Winter Championships

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team Prepared for Complicated Leg 8

A bird's-eye view of Ericsson Racing Team. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

by Victoria Low

Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race is called an offshore leg for scoring purposes, but Ericsson Racing Team is approaching it more as coastal sailing.

The 1,250-nautical mile leg to Marstrand, Sweden, features headlands, tidal gates, shipping zones, exclusion zones, oil rigs, a jaunt up the English Channel and a short loop off Rotterdam. With the fleet so evenly matched in speed, it's likely the estimated four- to six-day passage will be active for the crews.

"It's going to be pretty tiring because there's a lot of daylight - it's almost mid-summer's - and everybody's going to be racing hard because they'll be in sight of each other," said Ericsson 4 navigator Jules Salter. "There's stuff everywhere. It's going to be exciting."

Ericsson 3 navigator Aksel Magdahl said he's taking more tools on this leg than he's used to.

"I'm taking more charts than normal," Magdahl said. "They have valuable information along shorelines and it's good to be able to show the crew where the trouble spots are. I also have some tide books and almanacs."

Aside from the route, forecasting this leg is also a bit of a struggle. Team meteorologist Chris Bedford says that's due to the time of year and the fact there is an abundance of weather systems, none of which stands out.

"The forecast is very changeable, but we're starting to focus on a solution," said Bedford. "It's more due to the continent warming up and the water is still cold. So we're getting some temperature contrasts. Anytime you get into the summer season, the weather systems are much more subtle. Picking which disturbance will become the primary low pressure becomes difficult."

The most interesting feature of the leg is the Rotterdam Loop. The race committee intends to set two marks off the Dutch coast between 2 and 2.5 nautical miles apart to orient a reaching course. The loop comes about two-thirds of the way through the leg, and the boats must clear the "sausage" before continuing on to the finish.

"We're not quite sure how that'll work," said Salter. "If the course is right up on the coast it could be light. If we're there first thing in the morning it could be 3 to 4 knots of wind. Or, there could be a lot of breeze. It might take four hours or be a quick diversion."

The route takes the fleet out of Galway Bay, around the south coast of Ireland and past Fastnet Rock, the revered lighthouse that serves as the rounding mark for the Fastnet Race. It can be one of the most treacherous places in the world, but might be benign when the Volvo fleet passes between it and the mainland.

"Anytime you're forced back to land the wind is likely to get squirrely," said Bedford, who is predicting a light northeasterly wind. "There could be a light spot in the lee of the mainland, so it could be a restart scenario."

From there it's on to the English Channel, where the fleet is required to stay on the French side. That takes the fleet to the Rotterdam Loop, and then onwards up the North Sea and its many oil rigs towards Skagen, the northern tip of Denmark. Past Skagen, an estimated 35 nautical miles lie ahead before the finish in Marstrand, an idyllic vacation island on Sweden's west coast.

As Ericsson Racing Team leaves Galway it says goodbye to one of the most successful stopovers of this race. More than 317,000 people have visited the race village since it opened on May 23, and almost 200,000 are estimated to have swarmed the shores of Salthill and its 2-kilometer promenade along the shore of Galway Bay.

(After Galway In-Port Race)
1. Ericsson 4, 94 points
2. Telefónica Blue, 81
3. Puma, 80
4. Ericsson 3, 62.5
5. Green Dragon, 53
6. Telefónica Black, 39
7. Delta Lloyd, 31

Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race

D35s: Challenge Julius Baer, June 2009

The D35 fleet competing in the 2009 Challenge Julius Baer. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal/MyImage.

by Flavia Ciaranfi (in translation)

In the first Grand Prix of the season, the Grand Prix Corum, 8th-10th May, in Geneva, was won by Alinghi (SUI 1, Ernesto Bertarelli), beating Okalys-Corum (Nicolas Grange). Alinghi therefore took the lead in the Challenge Julius Baer for 2009.

The classification remained unchanged after the Grand Prix Romandie.dom Act 1 (23-24 May) as it wasn't possible to sail a race over that weekend.

All the teams are keen to sail and give their max. for the next stage of the competition, the major classic Genève-Rolle-Genève, which is on 6th June. Okalys-Corum and Julius Baer will try to keep their places on the podium. Foncai and Zen Too will try to reach the top three.

Alinghi (SUI) leads the 2009 Challenge Julius Baer. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal/MyImage.

SUI 6 (Ed Baird), the second Alinghi boat, finished sixth in the first event, followed by Veltigroup. The ladies on Ladycat were eighth, followed by Zebra 7 and Smarthome. Banque Populaire and completed the placings.

All the teams are separated by just one point, making it all on for the next event.

Challenge Julius Baer

VOR: Volvo Ocean Race Fleet Ready for the Sprint to Sweden

Skippers Press Conference for the leg 8 re-start from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Sophie Luther

The seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet is ready to race to Sweden, leaving behind a Galway stopover that has exceeded all expectations. With visitor numbers through the race village now nearing 350,000 and climbing to well over half a million when the crowds along the sea wall for the in-port race weekend are factored in, Galway has demonstrated genuine enthusiasm and passion for the race.

But, on Saturday, the teams will leave that behind, as they get underway in leg eight, a relatively short sprint up to Sweden. The racecourse will include an opening loop around Galway Bay, before the teams sail for open water and past the iconic Fastnet Rock, en route to the English Channel.

Once up the channel, the race takes the boats towards Rotterdam, where there will be a single loop around two marks laid off the port entrance, near the Hook of Holland. Local sailors there can test their speed on the same racetrack (although not at the same time), and compare themselves with the Volvo Open 70s.

From Rotterdam, it's up into the Baltic Sea and onwards to Marstrand for a short 'pit-stop' style stopover. Teams are restricted from their normal stopover activities in Marstrand and are not allowed, for example, to have outside assistance in working on the boats, nor are they permitted to add additional sails or other supplies before the restart for leg nine to Stockholm, where normal stopover rules apply.

Looking ahead to Saturday's start, the nearly unprecedented bright sunshine and warm temperatures that Galway has provided through much of the stopover are expected to be in short supply. In their place will be good racing conditions, with winds expected in the 15-knot range for much of the afternoon, under overcast skies and a much cooler temperature of 12-degrees.

Leg eight is the first of a series of closing legs that will feature inshore or near-shore racing, which calls for a different mindset according to PUMA skipper Ken Read.

"This is back towards the type of sailing that a lot of us grew up doing," he said at the skippers' press conference in Galway today. "It’s a different mentality from the ocean race sailing we’ve been doing for the past few months. It’s about changing your mindset a little bit. Going around corners and tidal gates, plus there’s going to be a lot of variable weather. You could see a lot of lead changes and splits from the group. It should be interesting and nerve-wracking on board and quite different from what you’ve been watching recently and hopefully it will be entertaining."

Ian Walker, skipper of Green Dragon, is a man with a team that was in high demand during this stopover. As the local boat in the fleet, the Dragons were often the stars of the show in Ireland.

"We’ve had a fantastic stay here in Galway," Walker acknowledged. "But I think everyone has had a fantastic stay, all the teams have. So it will be with a bit of a heavy heart that we leave."

His team will be working with the virtual game players again on this leg. Those registered to play the Volvo Ocean Race Game will be able to vote on tactical questions posed by Walker and his navigator Ian Moore. The answers come from the results of an online poll and are fed back through the entire fleet to ensure the Green Dragon team doesn't get any advantage from the information.

"What we’re trying to do with ‘bwin’ and United Games is to connect the game more directly to the race," Walker explained. "The players already use the same weather files we do, but on the boats we have different issues that the gamers don’t have to deal with, be it a broken sail, tide or human issues... Every 12 hours on the last leg, we discussed with the gamers what some of our problems were on board and sent in some questions. They did an online poll and then sent the answers back to us and the rest of the fleet... I think it was a lot of fun for us and for them, so we're going to do the same thing again."

In the real race, the competition at the head of the fleet sees Ericsson 4 take to the water with an increasingly comfortable 13-point lead. Telefónica Blue is in second place, just one point ahead of PUMA Ocean Racing. The fight for second is the closest battle on the racecourse.

"We're only one point apart but there are still quite a few points to go," said Telefónica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking. "We'll try to keep a close eye on PUMA, but I think it's too early to start covering. Our main objective is to win the leg. Ericsson 4 may be very comfortable now, but there is still an outside chance that they may have a bad one and we have a real good one, so we'll just try to win the leg and we'll see then how Ericsson 4 and PUMA end up."

The race start time is 1500 local time (1400 GMT) on Saturday, 6th June.

Overall Leaderboard
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 94.0 points
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 81.0 points
3. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 80.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 62.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 53.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 39.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 31.0 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA Ocean Racing keeps iPhone users connected

On board, training with Il Mostro in the waters off Galway, Ireland. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kate Fairclough

While PUMA and the Volvo Ocean Race fleet race 37,000 miles round the globe in one of the world’s toughest competitions, ground-breaking technology now allows armchair explorers to experience the excitement and drama of the PUMA team in realtime. Prior to the start of leg eight of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway, Ireland to Marstrand, Sweden, PUMA Ocean Racing has launched a new iPhone application. While the PUMA Ocean Racing team is racing their hearts out, you can stay connected with PUMA’s il mostro 24/7 with constant updates from the team.

For fans of the Volvo Ocean Race, there is no such thing as too much information. Position report updates are available every three hours, and daily blogs, action packed photos and videos from the boat are all available via your iPhone. Search for ‘PUMA Ocean Racing’ in the iTunes app store to download the PUMA Ocean Racing iPhone application. The PUMA Ocean Racing application features PUMA’s onboard blogs, videos; including weekly onboard footage and the PUMA Ocean Racing reality series, position reports (updated every three hours), and link to PUMA’s Facebook page, Flickr album, Twitter feed and the mobile site.

This edition of the Volvo Ocean Race has been the cause of many sleepless nights at sea and with the new mobile application, many more to come for those fans on land! Following the race, the PUMA Ocean Racing application will continue to keep you up to date with news from PUMA Ocean Racing.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Green Dragon - Looking Ahead to Leg 8

8 Olympic medals in a Galway Hooker, Torben Grael, (5) Ian Walker (2) Fernando Echavarri (1) sailing the Galway Hooker America Mor, built 1848 and owned by Dermot Flaherty of Galway. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Lucy Harwood

The Galway stopover is coming to an end, it has been an exceptional two weeks with record crowds making it one of the most successful stopover ports in the history of the race. For the home team Green Dragon it will be hard to leave the city that has welcomed them with open arms, “It has been a fantastic stopover, I think it has exceeded everyone’s expectations. We always thought it would be good for us because obviously home crowd and bringing the project back to Galway. But I think everyone has been over whelmed, all the teams have come to us and said it has been the biggest crowds they have seen before in the race, as well as great weather and just the reception from the local people has been phenomenal,” commented Ian Moore on Friday morning.

The race will kick off at 1500 local time (1400GMT) Saturday afternoon and the fleet will head south past the west coast of Ireland and onto the famous Fasnet Rock, Green Dragon’s navigator Ian Moore filled us in on the current forecast for the start. “It looks like a downwind start from Galway but the breeze is forecast to die away quickly after Fastnet rock and it could be a light air beat from the Rock to the Dover Straits. This is quite a contrast to yesterdays forecast which included much more down wind sailing. At the moment the routing is suggesting an ETA of over 5 days which could make for a very slow trip!”

The skippers lined up Friday ahead of the re-start and Green Dragon’s skipper Ian Walker talked about his stay here and the next leg:
“The whole team has had a fantastic stay, it is with a heavy heart we now have to leave. But it won’t be long until we sail back into Galway Bay, we are looking forward to doing this as soon as possible after we finish the race in Russia. During the next leg we will be carry on the relationship with the online game playing community. The online Volvo Ocean Race Game has been one of the big successes of the race, around 200,000 people have been taking part. The idea is to directly connect real race with the online race community. Essentially we use same weather files onboard that they use in the game, but they have the luxury of sitting at home and don’t suffer from the issues we may have onboard such as broken sails, tides, or the tiredness of the crew! We had great fun in the last leg and we have had some positive feedback from those that took part. We will be continuing this for the next leg and sending the questions every 12 hours, just as we did on Leg 7. I looked at the weather this morning, it is true you can cut the corner by going inside some islands, but I think the most likely scenario is that people will head further offshore to get the better conditions. The fleet has to pass inside the Fastnet Rock, which will probably be at night which is shame in terms of people being able to see what’s going on! Passing the Fastnet rock is great experience, it was a big goal to sail around and I remember my first time. It is an iconic landmark in yachting, just like Cape Horn, but only on a smaller scale! After that we will head for the English Channel and then onto the home of Ericsson!”

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Crew List Leg Eight: Galway - Marstrand

Pro Am Race in Galway, Ireland. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

1. Roberto Bermúdez De Castro/ESP – skipper
2. Wouter Verbraak/NED – navigator
3. Sander Pluijm/NED – media crew member
4. Stuart Wilson/NZL – watch captain
5. Nick Bice/AUS – watch captain
6. Andre Fonseca/BRA – helmsman
7. Ben Costello/NZL – helmsman
8. Ed Van Lierde/NED – trimmer
9. David Pella/ESP – trimmer
10. Gerd-Jan Poortman/NED – bowman
11. Morgan White/AUS - bowman
No changes

1. Torben Grael/BRA - skipper
2. Jules Salter/GBR - navigator
3. Guy Salter/GBR - MCM
4. Brad Jackson/NZL – watch captain
5. Stu Bannatyne/NZL – watch captain
6. Dave Endean/NZL - pitman
7. Horacio Carabelli/BRA - trimmer
8. Tony Mutter/NZL - trimmer
9. Joao Signorini/BRA - trimmer
10. Ryan Godfrey/AUS - bowman
11. Phil Jameson/NZL – bowman
No changes

1. Magnus Olsson/SWE – skipper
2. Aksel Magdahl/NOR - navigator
3. Gustav Morin/SWE MCM
4. Thomas Johanson/FIN – helmsman/trimmer
5. Richard Mason/NZL - watch captain
6. Martin Strömberg/SWE – trimmer
7. Jens Dolmer/DEN - pitman
8. Anders Dahlsjö/SWE - bowman
9. Martin Krite/SWE - bowman
10. Magnus Woxén/SWE – trimmer
11. Arve Roaas/NOR – trimmer/helmsman
On: Magnus Woxén/SWE – trimmer
Off: Eivind Melleby/NOR - helmsman

1. Ian Walker/GBR - skipper
2. Ian Moore/IRL – navigator
3. Huang Jian CHN – MCM
4. Neal McDonald/GBR – watch captain
5. Damian Foxall/IRL – watch captain
6. Anthony Merrington/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
7. Phil Harmer/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
8. Andrew Mclean/NZL – pitman/trimmer
9. Justin Slattery/IRL – bowman
10. Freddy Shanks/GBR – bowman
11. James Carroll/IRL - trimmer
James Carroll IRL – trimmer
Huang Jian CHN – MCM
Guo Chuan/CHN - MCM
Ian Budgen/GBR - helmsman

1. Ken Read/USA - skipper
2. Andrew Cape/AUS - navigator
3. Rick Deppe/GBR MCM
4. Erle Williams/NZL – watch captain
5. Robert Greenhalgh/GBR – watch captain
6. Robert Salthouse/NZL – helmsman/trimmer
7. Justin Ferris/NZL – helmsman/trimmer
8. Shannon Falcone/ANT – bowman/pitman
9. Casey Smith/AUS – bowman/helmsman
10. Michael Müller/GER – helmsman/bowman
11. Craig Satterthwaite NZL – trimmer/driver
No changes

1. Bouwe Bekking/NED - skipper
2. Tom Addis/AUS – navigator
3. Gabriele Olivo/ITA – MCM
4. Iker Martinez/ESP - helmsman
5. Jonathan Swain/RSA – watch captain
6. Jordi Calafat ESP – helmsman
7. Xabier Fernandez/ESP - trimmer
8. Pablo Arrarte/ESP Spanish - trimmer
9. Laurent Pages/FRA – helmsman
10. Daryl Wislang/NZL - bowman
11. Pepe Ribes/ESP - bowman
No changes

1. Fernando Echávarri/ESP – skipper
2. Roger Nilson/SWE – navigator
3. Anton Paz/ESP – MCM
4. Antonio (Ñeti) Cuervas-Mons/ESP – bowman
5. Gonzalo Araujo/ESP – watch captain
6. Jaime Arbones/ESP – watch captain
7. Pablo Iglesias/ESP – helmsman
8. Javier de la Plaza/ESP – helmsman
9. David Vera/ESP - trimmer
10. Maciel Cicchetti/ARG – trimmer
11. Michael Pammenter/RSA - bowman
No changes

Volvo Ocean Race

WMRT: MRT advance to quarter finals of Korea Match Cup

Mirsky Racing Team round the top mark. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by Kinley Fowler

Mirsky Racing Team progress to the quarter finals of the Korea Match Cup in a long action packed day filled with penalties and crashes.

With 6 races left to race in the round robin Mirsky Racing Team hit the water Friday morning knowing that a quarter finals berth was well in reach.

In a few tight races MRT won 2 of their 6 remaining races against Team Yanmar (Peter Gilmour) and the French Match Racing Team (Phillipe Presti). Despite losing 4 races they still continued to fight for each race and were satisfied with how they were sailing.

"We had a few tight battles out there this morning, the start is so crucial in these conditions and how you come off the line can determine the race result" commented Torvar Mirsky at the commencement of racing today.

Qualifying 6th in the round robin, they were left to face reigning world champion Bahrain Team Pindar (Ian Williams) in the quarter finals. Going down in the first race against Bahrain Team Pindar, MRT fought back to even up the scores in the second race.

The remaining races of the quarter finals will be raced Saturday in a best of 5 series, where the winners will then advance to the semi-final stage.

A special thanks to Line7, Harken and the Royal Perth Yacht Club for their support.

Results (wins/losses)
Quarter finals
Mirsky Racing Team (Torvar Mirsky) AUS vs. Bahrain Team Pindar (Ian Williams) GBR 1-1
Blackmatch (Adam Minoprio) NZL vs. Team Shosholoza (Paolo Cian) ITA 2-0
Team Yanmar (Peter Gilmour) AUS vs. Team Onboard (Bjorn Hansen) SWE 1-1
Team French Spirit (Mathieu Richard) FRA vs. Team Origin (Ben Ainslie GBR 0-0

9th Kiwi Match (Laurie Jury) NZL
10th K-Challenge/French Match Racing Team (Seb Col) FRA
11th French Match Racing Team (Philippe Presti) FRA
12th Byeong Ki Park KOR

Mirsky Racing Team
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: BlackMatch Lead the Way in Korea Match Cup

Nick Blackman prays to the gods for this to be a nice spinnaker drop! Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by David Swete

Yet another day of perfect sailing conditions here in Korea and we managed to find some form, winning 5 of our 6 remaining round robin races which saw us top of the table. We then took a 2 nil advantage in our quarterfinal match up against Italian Paolo Cian.

We had convincing wins over the top rated teams of Peter Gilmour, Ian Williams and Mathieu Richard, while taking out the battle of the kiwis defeating Laurie Jury and also Frenchman Phillipe Presti. Our loss of the day was against Swedish sailor Bjorn Hansen who gained a slight advantage in the pre-start and held on for a very close win, but our overall record of 8 wins 3 losses in the round robin was good enough to see us finish top of the table.

Our reward for winning the round robin was not only our choice of competitor, but as there are only 6 boats for the 8 quarterfinalists, we also had the choice of whether to start our quarterfinals in the late afternoon or delay it until tomorrow and let the other competitors battle it out. Well after 6 hard races we were still eager to keep racing so we chose to race bottom qualifier Paolo Cian from Italy and managed to set up for match point with two textbook wins.

Although we are 2 nil up on the Shosholoza America’s Cup Helmsman Paolo Cian, we are well aware of his capabilities and it will still be a very tough ask tomorrow to gain one more win and qualify for our second Korea Match Cup semi final. We are happy with our form so far here in Korea and are hoping we can keep improving to better our third placing last year.

Adam Minoprio finds a new way to relax betwen races at the Korea Match Cup 2009, Gyeonggi-do, Korea. Also known as modelling the new team gear to perfection for the photographer! Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

If anyone is keen to see a live feed to the racing, there is full coverage (onboard cameras, virtual spectator and commentary) on this link Racing usually commences around 1pm NZT and runs till about 7pm NZT.

BlackMatch would like to again thank their sponsors FedEx Express and Line 7 New Zealand. For this regatta we have brand new crew gear supplied by Ross Munro from Line 7, it looks amazing and we would like to say a special thank you to Ross and his team. We would also like to thank our yacht club the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand, as without their support we would not have this opportunity.

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: Minoprio Gets in His Stride

Quarter Finals Underway at Korea Match Cup

Split tack start, Korea Match Cup 2009, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, 5th June 2009. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by James Boyd

While America’s Cup legend Peter Gilmour was the class act of the first two days of racing at the Korea Match Cup, so today it was Emirates Team New Zealand’s Adam Minoprio who got on to a strong winning streak, with a run of eight races and just one loss.

“Today everything seemed to click into place,” beamed the 24 year old Kiwi as he stepped ashore on the brand new pontoons at Jeongok Marina. “We were feeling very comfortable in the boat and all the calls I was getting back from the guys were accurate. Our time and distance was right on, so I think we just sailed a very good day.”

In conditions similar to yesterday with the sun burning through early morning mist, followed by a light 8 knot sea breeze establishing itself, so in winning four of his five remaining races in the round robin put Minoprio on eight points out of eleven matches. This equalled him with Britons Ben Ainslie of Team Origin and Bahrain Team Pindar’s Ian Williams and, unexpectedly, Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen, an 11th hour entrant in the regatta, but by virtue of who Minoprio had beaten he came out on top, followed by Williams. At the mid-afternoon dockside conference between race organisers and crews, Minoprio chose Team Shosholoza’s Paolo Cian as his quarter final opponent, while Williams picked Torvar Mirsky. The four skippers not to make it through to the quarter finals are Sebastien Col, the 2008 winner of the Korea Match Cup, Philippe Presti, Laurie Jury and local Korean hero Byeong Ki Park.

In the first-to-three quarter final, Minoprio and his team are the only ones to end the day two races to zero. In both races Minoprio won the start from Cian and led around the course. A more nerve wracking match was when Minoprio came up against Peter Gilmour in flight 19 of the round robin. Minoprio copped a penalty in the pre-start when his stern touched Gilmour’s as they separated, while in the ensuing tacking duel up the first beat, with the boats repeatedly splitting tacks and missing each other by millimetres, the inevitable happened when after a big luff from Gilmour, Minoprio’s stern collided for a second time. But on this occasion Gilmour was penalised for not providing Minoprio with enough time to avoid him. Penalties cancelled out, Minoprio went on to take the win.

After three days in the locally-built KM36 yachts the crews evidently are feeling very comfortable with them and happier throwing them around the race course. “In a good breeze you can push it close - these boats are very agile. They make for very good racing,” states Minoprio. One of the loudest crashes came in the pre-start in the match between Ian Williams and Torvar Mirsky when the young Australian had found himself unable to prevent his boat T-boning the Bahrain Team Pindar boat midships.

Kiwi umpires Roger Wood and Shane Borrell signal a penalty against Torvar Mirsky, Korea Match Cup 2009, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, 5th June 2009. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

For France’s Mathieu Richard, after a slow start to the regatta the highlight of his day was beating Torvar Mirsky, thereby just squeaking into the quarter finals on five wins. “Normally it is a little bit easier, but here you had a lot of work to do. We made some mistakes in some matches which we could have won,” said the joint World Match Racing Tour leader. For example against Minoprio he sailed into the restricted area around the start box and rather than calling for water, copped a penalty instead. Richard tomorrow faces Ben Ainslie in the quarter finals.

Another success story of the day was that of Bjorn Hansen who not being a ‘Tour Card’ holder (that would guarantee him entry to all Tour events) only got the go-ahead to compete at the Korea Match Cup two weeks out from the start. Hansen who runs a match racing centre in Stockholm and won Match Race Sweden in Marstrand two years ago, was the only person to spoil Minoprio’s score line today. The matches against Minoprio and Mirsky were both particularly close, although he planted a penalty on Mirsky in the pre-start.

“It is an interesting place to sail. It is not very big, but they are great boats and it is nice to every now and then sail with the genniker,” commented the Swede.

Korea Match Cup continued at pace today with the quarter finals already started so that the semi-finals can be broadcast live across Asia, Oceania and the USA at 2pm local time tomorrow.

Peter Gilmour and crew during a tack, Korea Match Cup 2009, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, 5th June 2009. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

Minoprio v Cian 2-0
Williams v Mirsky 1-1
Gilmour v Hansen 1-1
Ainslie v Richard 0-0

1. Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 8/3
2. Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 8/3
3. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team Onboard 8/3
4. Ben Ainslie (GBR) TeamOrigin 8/3
5. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 5/6
6. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
7. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 5/3 (incl 2 x 0.5pt wins due to damage)
8. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza 5/6
9. Laurie Jury (NZL) 4/7
10. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge 4/7
11. Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2/9
12. Byeong Ki Park (KOR) 0/11

World Match Racing Tour

VOR: Interviews with Veteran and Younger Kiwi Round-theWorld Sailors on PUMA

Erle Williams checks the sail trim on board il mostro. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Trimmer, Justin Ferris. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Anne Hinton caught up with two of the Kiwis on board PUMA Ocean Racing's il mostro in Galway: Erle Williams, who has spent a life on the ocean wave, and Justin Ferris, who has already raced around the world before, and is back doing it again...

Both are addicted to the offshore scene, appreciating being paid to do what they love most: go sailboat racing. Justin Ferris is straight into his next offshore programme the day after the Volvo Ocean Race ends in St Petersburg, Russia.

Erle Williams

il mostro's Trimmer/Driver Erle Williams. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

AH: Erle, how many times have you raced around the world?

EW: Five times. I’ve done the race on Flyer, Swedish Match, DeJuice, Pirates and now PUMA.

AH: How old were you when you started round-the-world racing and how old are you now?

EW: I did my first race with I was 21, and am now 50.

AH: What drew you into the long distance racing?

EW: I grew up racing with my father on his boat. I did my first offshore race with him when I was 15.

AH: Why did you decide to join the PUMA crew?

EW: Because of injuries and crew rotation I was on PUMA’s bench and ready to go when Kenny gave me the call after Leg Four.

AH: What is your role on the boat?

EW: Watch Captain/Trimmer-Driver

After so many times around the world - Erle Williams still needs some sailing gloves! Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

AH: What have been the best and worst experiences of this latest round-the-world sailing adventure for you to date?

EW: BEST: high speed downwind sailing; WORST: Getting becalmed and passed by other boats.

AH: Would you go around (yet) again?

EW: Yes, given the right opportunity I would definitely do another Volvo, but it has to be the right programme.

AH: What other sailing do you have planned after this 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race?

EW: After the Volvo, I’ll go back to my job as skipper of the J-boat Ranger.

AH: Many thanks for your time, Erle.

Enjoying a Kiwi favourite! Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Justin Ferris

Justin Ferris keeps the boat moving. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

AH: Justin, how many times have you raced around the world and how old are you now?

JF: I did my first round-the-world race in 2005-2006 on board Pirates. I’m now 34.

AH: How much training did you do with il mostro before the first race of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-9?

JF: I was with the team since May 2007, so from the very beginning.

AH: What is your role on board – and do you think it’s the best job on the boat?

JF: Trimmer and head sail maker. I like my job, but it can get tough when we rip a sail!

Justin Ferris carries out running sail repairs on board il mostro. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

AH: What is it like living with 11 men on the boat for up to weeks at a time?

JF: Most of the time, it’s great. As with situation when you spend 24/7 with the same people, it’s pretty intense, you can get on each others nerves. But at the end of the day we’re all teammates and its okay.

AH: What has been the best part of the world for the sailing – both this time and on previous round-the-world racing – for you?

JF: Drinking lots of rum!!!...just kidding, the best thing is getting to sail for a job- getting paid to do what you love.

AH: Has PUMA added a magic touch? With 2nd across the Atlantic and 1st in the In-Port race in Galway, she seems to be going well now. What accounts for this improvement?

JF: The team has just finally gelled. It’s been a long time coming, but it is a great feeling.

AH: What other sailing do you have planned after this 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race?

JF: The day after the finish I’ll head straight out to do the Trans Pac.

AH: Thank you very much, Justin, and all the best!

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA preparing for tricky leg eight to Sweden

Shannon Flacone training on board il mostro off Galway. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Kate Fairclough

The PUMA Ocean Racing team will begin the shortest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 to date this Saturday, June 6. The start of leg eight will take place just off Mutton Island in Galway Bay at 15:00 local (14:00 GMT/10:00 EDT) and is expected to be watched by tens of thousands of spectators, lining the shores of Galway. Mixed and unpredictable weather conditions are anticipated for the 1,200 mile, five day sprint from Galway, Ireland to Marstrand, Sweden, which will make for extremely taxing tactical racing. With three legs and one In Port competition remaining in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, a podium finish in Marstrand is vital to PUMA’s overall position in the race.

The PUMA Ocean Racing team, led by Skipper Ken Read (USA) were out on the water today preparing for a tricky leg ahead. After leaving Galway, the seven boat fleet will head southwards down the Atlantic coast of Ireland towards the well known yachting landmark Fastnet Rock, race eastwards through the English Channel and up into the North Sea, rounding the northern tip of Denmark en route to the island of Marstrand, on the west coast of Sweden. Marstrand, a popular sailing venue and summer resort on the Bohuslän coast, hosts the only ‘pitstop’ of the 37,000 mile round the world race, during which shore crews are not allowed to work on the boats. Currently lying in third place overall, it is still mathematically possible for the PUMA team to take glory in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “We’re expecting to see a little of everything in this next leg. First of all we head back out into the open water of the Atlantic Ocean, but then as we turn to go along the south coast of England, past Rotterdam in the Netherlands and up to Scandinavia, we’re really switching into coastal sailing mode, and will be for the rest of this race. Once more, much like going from offshore to in port racing; we need to be ready to change gear, as it’s again a very different style of sailing. Weather-wise, we’re expecting it to be really varied. There is some mixed weather ahead, and how you cope with that is what is going to make or break the leg. It’s going to be highly tactical, and should be pretty interesting for all you armchair spectators watching at home or on the internet.”

“Though we are now going into the last few weeks of this nine month race, there’s still so much more to come. A pitstop in Marstrand, a stopover in Stockholm and a finish in Russia, where the race has never been before – there’s still a lot of racing left on the cards, and opportunities for place changing along the way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this race is not over until our shore team is taking our dock lines in St Petersburg, Russia. The PUMA team is fighting for every inch, and will be until then.”

PUMA Ocean Racing Crew List, Leg Eight, Galway - Marstrand
Ken Read (USA) Skipper
Andrew Cape (AUS) Navigator
Rick Deppe (GBR) Media Crew Member
Robert Greenhalgh (GBR) Watch Captain
Erle Williams (NZL) Watch Captain
Justin Ferris (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Rob Salthouse (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Craig Satterthwaite (NZL) Trimmer/Driver
Shannon Falcone (ANT) Trimmer/Pit
Casey Smith (AUS) Bowman
Michael Müller (GER) Bowman

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Green Dragon Annouce Crew Changes for Leg 8

On the foredeck of Green Dragon under sail off Galway. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

by Lucy Harwood

For Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race Green Dragon will have two crew changes as part of their on going crew rotation. Chinese media crew member Guo Chuan will step down for the next leg from Galway to Marstrand. Guo has been with the team since their initial training in Ireland last summer, and has sailed on every leg of the race so far. Stepping onboard to carry out the media role will be Green Dragon cameraman Huang Jian. Huang (also known by his English name James) has been part of Green Dragon media team on shore since the start of the race in Alicante and this will be his first time onboard for a leg of the race. Also stepping back onboard will be Green Dragon’s boat captain James Carroll, he will replace Ian Budgen who joined the crew for the transatlantic leg from Boston to Galway.

“Guo has been with us since the every beginning, he has done an amazing job onboard with the crew. I was so proud for him to be nominated for the media award during the Leg 7 prize giving. This will be his first trip home since our arrival in Qingdao in January and he really deserves this opportunity to recharge the batteries. Arriving into Galway was a huge moment for the whole team and just as the boat completed its circumnavigation, Guo also completed his own lap of the planet. Huang Jian has been traveling as part of the Green Dragon team since Alicante, it will be a fantastic opportunity for him, he is an exceptional cameraman and the boys are looking forward to having him onboard”: Skipper Ian Walker

Huang Jian (CHN)
Huang Jian has worked as chief cinematographer for Fujian SETV in China, and as an independent producer for the documentary studio of SETV. His main focus is on wild animals, natural environments and outdoor sports. He specialises in offshore sports, and started sailing in 2002. Huang also joined the Green Dragon team for their punishing 2000-mile qualification sail. Huang has been part of the Green Dragon media team since the start of the race, filming all the action and delivering material to broadcasters all over the world.

“It will be an amazing opportunity to join the crew for this leg. I was lucky enough to sail with them during the 2000 – mile qualification passage and I loved every minute of it. I am very excited at this opportunity and I hope to get some great footage of the boys in action,”: Huang Jian Media Crew Member Leg 8

Leg 8 Galway to Marstrand, 525 nm
In a change of pace to the previous transatlantic leg from Boston, Leg 8 will see the fleet take on the first of the short sprint legs, as they sail the 950 miles from Galway to Marstrand in Sweden. The boats will leave Galway Bay and head south along the west coast of Ireland, then south-east across the Irish Sea to the south coast of England. The course will then see them head eastwards up the English Channel, and then turn the corner to head north into the North Sea, eventually ending up in the the entrance to the Baltic Sea. The fleet could face some low pressure systems along the course, but the high pressure and light airs common at this time of year could also cause the fleet some issues.

Leg 8 start time: 15:00 local time (1400 GMT).

Green Dragon Crew List Leg 8
IAN WALKER (GBR) - Skipper
IAN MOORE (IRL) - Navigator
NEAL McDONALD (GBR) - Watch Captain
DAMIAN FOXALL (IRL) - Watch Captain
HUANG JIAN (CHN) - Media Crew Member

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

Mooloolaba's Musto Etchells Winter Championships - Day One Report

A bit of swell on the first day of the Musto Etchells Winter Championships. Image copyright Peter Duncan.

by Rob Kothe

The 13th annual Musto Etchells Australian Winter Championship started this morning when the 54 boat fleet was gunned away in glorious winter sunshine and six knots of breeze.

Race 1, sponsored by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, had a clean start and the fleet set out on the 1.8 nautical mile first leg.

The wind was building up the first leg, reaching 7.5 knots as the fleet headed to the first mark. It soon became apparent that the boats that had been hardest left had done best.

At the top mark, Una Mas (Mark Dagge, Matthew Hansen and Joshua Willis) was first around, followed by Fifteen (David Clark), Tango (Christopher Hampton), and Temptress (David Lawrence).

Hot on the leaders tails were Critical Balance (Mark Bulka), Funky Cold Medina (Vaughan Prentice), last year’s winner Magpie (Graeme Taylor), Velsheda (skippered by New Zealand’s Alastair Gair) and Trekka (Chris Williams).

The wind shifted left 20 degrees and the course was changed. Mid race the swell had built to one metre but conditions had softened and the breeze has dropped to five knots.

Una Mas continued to hold form and was first across the finish line, followed by Velsheda and Fifteen. Tango was fourth, with Roulette fifth. Magpie, Barry, Heaven Can Wait, Critical Balance and Two Speed completed the top ten.

Roulette (Mark Johnson). Image copyright Peter Duncan.

After Race 1 skipper Alastair Gair was happy with his second place result. ‘We had a reasonable start. We went only a little left, and then consolidated, but we realised that the boats that went harder left were advantaged. On the second beat we hit the corner hard and that took us up into second place.’

In Race 2, sponsored by Queensland Events, David Clark’s Fifteen was fast away at the pin end followed closely midline by the Mark Bradford skippered Roni and Damien King’s Barry.

At the top mark Alastair Gair was leading by three lengths from Damien King, who had to dance through a 360 after touching the top mark. However, their gap on the next boat Roulette (Mark Johnson) was such that they did not lose a placing. Roni was fourth with early leader Fifteen next.

But it was not so easy further back in the fleet. Having been quick to a good shift, 1997 Mooloolaba Winter series winner David Rose (Fair Bump Play On) approached the top mark around tenth in the pack. But Rose was caught out by the tidal rip and in the light conditions was pushed onto the mark. A good placing quickly turned to custard as the boat sat stalled against the yellow buoy. They finally managed to escape, do their penalty turn and reinsert themselves into the fleet at a cost of 30 places. They sailed out of their skins on the next three legs and managed to cross in 11th place.

Up front Gair and his Velsheda crew held the lead as the fleet headed to the bottom mark and tacked right to clear away from the 'gas' of the fleet approaching the mark. Behind them came Bradford, Clarke, King and Johnson.

Conditions lightened as they worked their way to the top mark and Gair extended his lead over the fleet. Sydney sailor Mark Johnson (Roulette) was second, with Damien King (Barry) third. Vaughan Prentice on Funky Cold Medina was fourth.

With tidal set and the jury boat camped beside the buoy, on this rounding competitors were careful to go wide around the mark.

The wind had dropped to six knots as Gair gapped the fleet down the last run to receive the winner’s gun.

Damien King's Barry edged ahead of Roulette and Funky Cold Medina. Tian Hua (skippered by Hong Kong sailor Simon Ellis), Fifteen, Resurgent (John Sheehan), Humpback (Peter Gardner), Bushfire (Jervis Tilly) and Waterloo Bay (Noel Paterson) completed the top ten.

Overall, after the first two races in the 2009 series New Zealand's Alastair Gair, Velsheda, with crew Anna De Fluiter, Dave Ridley and Derek Scott, leads after today's 2,1 placings from Mark Johnson's Roulette on 5,2. Damien King is third with finishes of 7,2, ahead of David Clarke and Vaughan Prentice.

Dockside winners were grinners. Alastair Gair, who has been on the Etchells circuit for almost five years, surprised in 2006 with a second in the Fremantle Etchells Worlds. Today he commented ‘We are used to sailing in heavier conditions at home in New Zealand and that has been our strength up to now. But we have been working hard in training to improve our light wind speed and if today is a guide, we are on the right track.’

Damien King and crew on Barry. Image copyright Peter Duncan.

Second overall after two races, Mark Johnson was both frustrated and pleased with his day at the office.

'Nik Burfoot and I sailed the last year with Jud Smith at the North Americans and Worlds, and now we all moved back a slot. This was my first race on the helm for the last 15 months. We went around the bottom marks like novices; we were just lucky that two good starts and good speed overcame that.

'This boat is beautifully set up and is certainly fast. The leverage of speed makes such a difference for tactics, being able to hold a lane. We are happy to be in the middle of the course. The way we got around the course today, if we have more breeze, we might have killed someone, so we will be happy to see light conditions again tomorrow.'

Damien King, fresh from his second placing at the 2009 Worlds in Melbourne, showed that for them speed was not an issue, but that the tide was.

He commented, ‘The tide surprised us more than anything today... must have been up to two knots at the top mark. We hit the top mark on the first leg of the second race and luckily were able to do a 360 without losing a place. It could have been worse.

‘We came into this regatta looking for top ten results in every race and today’s 7 and 2 means with two keepers we are on track.'

Racing starts at 10am Saturday, and if there is enough breeze three races will be sailed.

Musto Etchells Winter Championships

Musto Etchells Australian Winter Championship 2009: Big Fleet for 13th Etchells Winter Nationals in Mooloolaba

by Rob Kothe

On Friday morning at 11am a top class fleet of 55 Etchells One Design boats will start three days of intense racing in a six race series for the 13th annual Musto Winter National Championship, to be sailed just off the mouth of the Mooloolah River near Point Cartwright.

Amongst the sailors on the start line will be the 2004 World Champion skipper Peter McNeil and crew Greg Torphy, 2009 World Champion crew Bucky Smith and Matthew Chew as well as a host of other World and National champions, Olympians, America's Cup and Volvo Round the World sailors.

Amongst the favourites will be last year's Mooloolaba series winner Graeme Taylor (GT) from Melbourne. Among the many other skippers vying for a podium finish will be Victorian Damien King, who finished second in the hard fought 2009 Etchells World Championships on Port Phillip in Melbourne, Julian Plante, Mark Bulka, David Clark, Mark Johnston, Vaughan Prentice, Peter Hollis, Mark Bradford and international sailors Alastair Gair (NZL) and Mark Thornborrow (HKG).

Trevor Martin, the local Etchells fleet captain, says the Musto Mooloolaba Winter Nationals are an institution on the Asia Pacific Sailing Calendar.

'Two days from the regatta start we have a fleet of 55 boats, more than last year. Over 80% of the fleet is from interstate or overseas. When you think the 2009 World Championships were held in Melbourne in March, it's a strong support vote for this event and a pretty amazing back-up for these sailors for whom holiday time is precious.'

The first Winter Championship was conducted in Mooloolaba in 1997. It attracted 25 boats and was won by Brisbane skipper David Rose, who will be on starting line again this year.

Since the first regatta the event has grown from strength to strength with previous winners including a 'who is who' of international sailing. Russell Coutts (1998), Ian Johnston (1999), Julian Plante (2000), Michael Coxon (2001), Mark Bradford (2002), Cameron Appleton (2003), Grant Wharington (2004), Rob Brown (2005), Cameron Miles (2006), Skip Lissiman (2007) and Graeme Taylor (2008) have all proudly held the Etchells Australian Winter Championship trophy. The runners up have been well known too, and include John Bertrand, Grant Simmer, Iain Murray, Colin Beashel and Noel Drennan.

Martin says the Winter Championship is about giving all Etchells skippers and crews the chance to enjoy top class competition. Mooloolaba is one of the few harbours in Australia to offer quick, easy access to the ocean.

The 2009 event will be based out of The Wharf complex at Mooloolaba. All competing boats will be berthed at the marina during the event adding to the visual excitement the Winter Championship brings to Mooloolaba each year.

In 2008 the recorded economic impact for this event had more than 300 visitors (sailors, support crew, family and friends) and 1,000 room nights spent on the Sunshine coast, making a contribution in excess of a third of a million dollars towards the local economy.

At a glance:

Thursday registration and weigh-in of the crews takes place.

Format of the Event - six races conducted over three days, one result discard if five or more race sailed.

Mooloolaba also hosted the 2004 Etchells World Championship.

Musto Etchells Winter Championships

WMRT: Ainslie Sees Red Against BlackMatch in Korea Match Cup

Korean spectator boat in the middle of the action in the match between BlackMatch Racing and Mirsky Racing Team. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by David Swete

Perfect sailing conditions in Korea today, set a magnificent scene for some great action on the water. 12 flights were completed in a very nice 8-10 knot onshore breeze, however BlackMatch were only involved in three. We managed wins over last weeks Germany Match Champion Ben Ainslie and local hope Byeong Ki Park, while our loss came in strange circumstances against rival Torvar Mirsky.

In a heated pre-start against Ainslie, we were in control when the triple gold Olympian tacked off for the boat end of the start line. Sensing that they were early and below the lay-line Adam pounced in an attacking move and we tacked with him towards the boat end. The Brit tacked back in an attempt to clear us for a clean start but failed to complete his tack and was handed a penalty. It didn’t take long for the umpires to discuss the seriousness of the infringement and they were handed a ‘Red Flag’ which meant they had to take their penalty immediately, effectively game over as we sailed well to defend our lead.

Yet another heated pre-start against Torvar Mirsky saw the Australian come away with a slight advantage off the start line. We fought back hard up the first beat and closed within striking distance, getting into a great position for a lee-bow tack nearing the top mark, however a spectator boat fully laden with local enthusiasts got very close to the action and effectively prevented us from getting to Torvar. Perhaps our strong language and gestures were mistaken as they kept smiling, waving and snapping pictures but this is part of the game and we are happier something like this happened early on in the event.

Adam Minoprio appealing to the umpires. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

The round robin should be completed tomorrow and we are involved in 6 very important matches. The race is on to see the top 8 quarterfinalists decided and it looks like a minimum of 6 wins will be needed to proceed. With 3 wins and 6 remaining races there is added pressure but we are looking forward to the challenge.

BlackMatch would like to again thank their sponsors FedEx Express and Line 7 New Zealand. For this regatta we have brand new crew gear supplied by Ross Munro from Line 7, it looks amazing and we would like to say a special thank you to Ross and his team. We would also like to thank our yacht club the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand, as without their support we would not have this opportunity.

BlackMatch Racing team photo in Korea, with new team kit. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

Results after day two
Peter Gilmour, (AUS) YANMAR Racing 7/8
Ben Ainslie, (GBR) Team Origin 8/11
Torvar Mirsky, (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 4/5
Ian Williams, (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 6/8
Mathieu Richard, (FRA) French Team 4/8
Paolo Cian, (ITA) Team Shosholoza 5/11
Adam Minoprio, (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 3/5
Bjorn Hansen, (SWE) Team Onboard 5/8
Laurie Jury, (NZL) SLAM NZ 3/8
Philippe Presti, (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2/8
Sebastien Col, (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge 1/5
Byeong Ki Park, (KOR) Geogi 0/11

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: MRT Continues The Roll

Mirksy Racing Team Gain the Advantage over BlackMatch Racing. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by Kyle Langford

A solid day on the water for Mirsky Racing Team sees them sit at 4-1 on day two of the Korea Match Cup.

In a comfortable 8 knots breeze MRT found their feet by taking three straight victories.

Mirsky Racing Team Overtakes Col on the Final Run. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

In an exciting race against K-Challenge/French Team, last year's Korea Match Cup winners, MRT was on the end of a penalty in an intense prestart but sacrificed their advantage on the start line to equalise the penalties. K-Challenge narrowly lead around the course up until half way down the last run when MRT applied the pressure and forced an error on K-Challenge to pass in the final stages of the race.

Tomorrow MRT will race their remaining races in the round robin where the top 8 will advance through to the quarter final stage of the competition.

A special thanks to Line7, Harken and the Royal Perth Yacht Club for their support.

Mirsky Racing Team and Team Shosholoza Wind Up on the Starting Line.

Results after day two

Peter Gilmour, (AUS) YANMAR Racing 7/8
Ben Ainslie, (GBR) Team Origin 8/11
Torvar Mirsky, (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 4/5
Ian Williams, (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 6/8
Mathieu Richard, (FRA) French Team 4/8
Paolo Cian, (ITA) Team Shosholoza 5/11
Adam Minoprio, (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 3/5
Bjorn Hansen, (SWE) Team Onboard 5/8
Laurie Jury, (NZL) SLAM NZ 3/8
Philippe Presti, (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2/8
Sebastien Col, (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge 1/5
Byeong Ki Park, (KOR) Geogi 0/11

Mirsky Racing Team
World Match Racing Tour

WMRT: Ainslie Spoils Gilmour's Day

but Gilmour still looks strong

Peter Gilmour in action on day 2 of the Korea Match Cup 2009, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, 4th June 2009. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by James Boyd

After a short day of racing yesterday, today Korea Match Cup CEO Dong Young Kim and his race officials put the 12 teams through a full day, completing a further twelve of the 22 flights, just off the Korea International Boat Show show ground and its brand new Jeongok Marina.

When racing got underway at 1000, the conditions were not looking promising with the breeze light and the fog leaving the top mark even more obscured than it was yesterday. However, come the fourth flight the sun had finally burned off the fog and a good 13-14 knot sea breeze had established itself until the last flights at the end of the afternoon.

Very much the cat who has got the cream, Peter Gilmour had a glamour day and at the end of day two his YANMAR Racing team looked set to be the only unbeaten team. With seven wins and no losses, all was looking good until the final flight when in a tight match that saw two lead changes in the dying breeze, he was finally beaten by Ben Ainslie and his TeamOrigin crew.

Ainslie has now sailed all his races in the round robin finishing with eight wins in 11 matches. “We made mistakes,” said tactician and double Olympic Gold medallist, Iain Percy. “Things are getting better every day and slowly we are learning the game between us. We have done all our races so we don’t have to get up tomorrow morning!” Gilmour still has three tough matches tomorrow.

Among the scalps Gilmour claimed today was Ian Williams who got pushed into the pin at the start and from then on was unable to get back into the match. However this did not phase Williams’ well seasoned Bahrain Team Pindar crew which rolled into a winning streak beating in succession Bjorn Hansen, the present World Match Racing Tour joint leader, Mathieu Richard, and local Korean sailor Byeong Ki Park. The potentially exciting inter-Brit dust-up between Williams and Ainslie was close but sadly uneventful, a text book piece of match racing with Williams holding the right out of the start and defending well as the two boats gybed down the first run. Like Gilmour, Williams has still to sail his three final races.

The young Antipodeans blades, Emirates Team Zealand’s Adam Minoprio and his Perth, WA-based counterpart Torvar Mirsky, provided much of today’s excitement, with the latter winning when they lined up. It was nip and tuck around the race course with Mirsky just ahead, but the Kiwi team’s fate was sealed when they picked up a penalty during a tack as they touched a gennaker sheet dragging out of the back of the leading Aussie boat.

“The umpire said it was in its normal position! We’ll have to talk to them,” complained Minoprio afterwards.

Mirsky also had a lively race against K-Challenge America’s Cup helm Sebastien Col with both sides picking up pre-start penalties, the first against the Australian for erring too close to an obstruction and the second against Col as the two boats separated on the start line and his stern touched the Aussie boat. Col commanded the race, particularly after Mirsky professed to making a tactical error in his choice of top mark following a course change. The Aussies caught up by goosewinging into the bottom mark but on the final run Col made an error in gybing too early enabling Mirsky to lock him out and gybe for the line at his leisure to take the win. Col has been decidedly off form these last two days taking just one win in five matches.

New to the Tour Philippe Presti scored his first significant win today against Paolo Cian. After a typically aggressive pre-start, Presti did well defending the right and ‘slam dunked’ Cian approaching the top mark. Cian recovered but it was not enough to catch the Frenchman.

Earlier Presti came within a whisker of beating Peter Gilmour, leading the Cup veteran around the race track before his team made a mistake with their gennaker, dragging it in the water. This was enough to allow Gilmour to draw level and then roll through just short of the finish line.

“We sailed in Marseilles, but this is our comeback, our baptism of fire,” commented Presti, who is sailing with a crew largely comprising students from his match racing centre in Bordeaux. “We got invited pretty late. The boys did a good job but we need to be smoother. It will come, hopefully early enough!”

When asked about the plan for day 3, PRO David Tallis said “We aim to finish the Round Robin and get the quarter finals underway.”

Article provided by James Boyd

Results after day two
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing Team 7/8
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin 8/11
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 4/5
Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 6/8
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Team 4/8
Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza 5/11
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 3/5
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team Onboard 5/8
Laurie Jury (NZL) 3/8
Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2/8
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge 1/5
Byeong Ki Park (KOR) 0/11

World Match Racing Tour