Friday, 12 June 2009

Kiwi Girls Eye Top Finish at European 470 Championships

by Jez Fanstone

New Zealand sailors Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie are sitting in third position after five races in the European 470 Sailing Championships underway on Lake Traunsee in Austria.

The event is an important precursor to the World Championships and is one of the most important on the year’s high performance sailing circuit for two-handed Olympic class dinghy sailors.

Light winds have dominated the event, but have been favourable for the New Zealand girls, who have secured four top ten finishes in the fleet of 39. It is their first season racing the boat internationally, and they finished fourth at last month’s Delta Lloyd Regatta. Jo Aleh finished seventh in the Laser Radial class at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Italian crew of Giulia Conti and Giovanna Micol are clear ahead at 13 points in first place, and Ali Kondo and Wakako Tabata are on 20 points, just one point ahead of the New Zealanders.

There are two more days of racing, plus a double points medal race on 14 June (European time). New Zealand’s representatives in the men’s class, Geoffrey Wooley and Mark Overington, sit in 32nd, after two fourth places, and have qualified for the Gold fleet.

470 Europeans 2009

Bol d'Or Mirabaud 2009

Bol d'Or Mirabaud 2008. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal/

by Mélanie Tavernier (in translation)

The 12 – 14 June, the Lake Léman will be again in turmoil for the biggest regatta of the world in closed waters, the Bol d'Or Mirabaud presented by Girard-Perregaux.

About 570 sailing boats are expected and about 3,000 team members that, that day, will be able to sleep an hour of more than of ordinary, since the edition 2009 is marked by a change of major schedule. Thus, the blow of sending of the 71st edition of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud will be given to 10h00 the Saturday morning (which corresponds to 9h00 solar hour), favouring optimum navigation conditions.

A taste of the ocean

Organized by the Cercle de la Voile of the Société Nautique de Genève, the Bol d'Or Mirabaud can be entrusted to attract an ever-growing number of oceanic stars. This year, the big champions coming from courses far and wide are particularly numerous in their participation. Pascal Bidégorry will helm a big new D35 catamaran, Banque Populaire, in company of his accomplice Yvan Ravussin, with whom he disputed the Transat Jacques Vabre 2007. The other new D35 that will be their competition is Veltigroup, with Stève Ravussin surrounded by his local lémanique crew and, for the tactics, the olympic medallist Franck David will be on board.

Much awaited, Michel Desjoyeaux, conqueror of the Vendée Globe 2008-2009, will sail on board the D35 Foncia in company of Alain Gautier. On board okalys-corum, one will see Loïck Peyron, a faithful one of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud, who has made forty-two crossings of the Atlantic and that won the last year the mythical English Transat. Ernesto Bertarelli surrounds himself with a superb crew composed of the specialists of the lake on Alinghi Sui 1, all the while knowing that Ed Baird and Brad Butterworth will confront them on "his" second boat, Alinghi Sui 6!

Coming from the high level of Olympic sailing, Yann Guichard participates in this BBol d'Or Mirabaud on the M2 Safram. Pierre Pennec, another sailor of great talent and second to Franck Cammas, will sail on board Zen Too. Fred Le Peutrec will steer Smart Home, a Decision 35. As for the Swiss, Dominique Wavre, he will sail on board a 7,50 alongside Michèle Paret, the brilliant French navigator who notably ran the Barcelona World Race, and of Marc Guillemot, of equally famous journeys. Karine Fauconnier is helmsman on the famous Ladycat of Dona Bertarelli-Spaeth, with a completely feminine crew.

On the journey between Geneva and the Bouveret, one will see of course to evolve sailing ship of exception coming from the innovations more pointed of the water research, but also a colored multitude of more traditional series - Surprised, Big Surprised, Toucans - that participate in the adventure in a beautiful family spirit and sportsman. Everyone is in agreement, in fact, to say that the Bowl of Now Mirabaud is a magnificent occasion, that one want to test performances or simply to please!

Those who remain at home will be able to follow the race in real time on the internet site of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud,, thanks to about one hundred beacons (disposed on the favourite boats of every class as well as on random boats) and to the new information uniformly posted on-line.

Last year, the D35 Zebra 7-Girard-Perregaux that had won the Bol d'Or Mirabaud with Franck Cammas.

Bol d'Or Mirabaud

Audi MedCup: Emirates Team New Zealand masters in the big breeze; Roma lead GP42 Series

The Rade Sud delivered the conditions which both the TP52 Series and GP42 Series fleets came to Marseille with hopes of, as westerly winds to 20 knots produced fast, physiscally challenging racing for both fleets.

Marseille Trophy, 11/06/2009. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Emirates Team New Zealand proved the most consistent, top scorers of the day across the three windward-leeward races when they posted a 2,1,2 from the three races which were contested with a windward mark set off the Ile Maire on the eastern entrance to Marseille, while there was an occasional benefit too from the Cape Caveaux to the right of the course, the south west corner of the Ile Pomegues.

“There was no particular rhyme or reason to the day, boats did well on both sides. I think the secret of success today as much as anything was sailing good runs. Also if you were in touch at the top mark then you could pick a few boats off.” concluded Emirates Team Zealand’s skipper-helm Dean Barker (NZL) of the conditions.

In the brisk conditions Emirates Team New Zealand’s polished boat handling, smart starting and excellent, assured tactics combined to prove they are this regatta’s class act so far. From seven points clear of Matador (ARG) this morning, the Kiwi team eased out to ten points ahead of the Alicante Trophy winners who won the first race today and then added a third and a fifth.

While there was often a dividend to the left of the track upwind, it was not as regular as opening day’s three TP52 contests. After Bigamist (POR) and Valars (RUS) lead at the windward mark first time up Matador and Emirates Team New Zealand made gains on each successive leg to take first and second places.

Ray Davies (NZL) and Adam Beashel (NZL) called the shifts on the first downwind leg of the second race well to make their key move which gave the Kiwi boat the lead by the first leeward turn and they reversed the first race order when they kept Matador in second.

Audi MedCup Circuit 2008 champions Quantum Racing (USA) made their best start so far this regatta on the third race of the day and went on to lead Emirates Team New Zealand home. With a tally from the day of 6,3,1 Quantum Racing are now third overall.

Tomorrow’s coastal race to the east along towards Cassis, against the spectacular backdrop of the sharp limestone karst Calanques, is easily the most incredible scenery of any of the Audi MedCup Circuit venues. It will be the first coastal race for the TP52 this season. Unlike previous seasons the points multiplier for the coastal race is now 1.5 and the midrace scores only stand if the race finish is not achieved.

TP52 Pisco Sour III racing off Marseille. Image copyright Reuben Ballester.

Roma day at the GP42 Series
Each of the three races for the GP42’s went to the wire, down to one final surf in the high speed downwind sailing. In the first race it was Roma (ITA) which lurched ahead on a wave to pip the Spanish boat Islas Canarias Puerto Calero by just four seconds.

The Spanish boat turned the tables and got their revenge in the second race when they stole the winning gun by only two seconds from Roma. Only four seconds separated winner Roma from Turismo Madrid (ESP) in the third race, with Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) third.

It was a frustrating day for the Italian team on Airis who suffered a broken backstay which failed twice, forcing them to retire from the second two races.

Roma Mk2 lead the Marseille Trophy for the GP42 Series by two points from Alicante winners, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero.

Quotes of the day:
Dean Barker (NZL), skipper-helm Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“The breeze was shifting quite a bit, nothing big but enough to be a nuisance if you were on the wrong side of it.

“It will be a bit of a change for us tomorrow, we have not done a coastal race for a while. It’ll be interesting and a time to learn with the team. I think the format is good, not holding quite the same penalty if you don’t do well. I am really happy with the boat and we can still do a better job sailing, so if we are on the pace now we can keep better and better.”

Terry Hutchinson (USA), skipper-helm Quantum Racing (USA):
“The entire day was good for us. We did it to ourselves in the first race a little bit. We have little spinnaker keepers and one got sucked into the block and we could not trim the spinnaker in the gybe and so we lost Valars, Artemis and potentially a shot at third in the first race, That was frustrating.

“ We went 3-1 after that and after our starting yesterday it was better. Yesterday it was execution which was down to me. I did a bad job. Poor execution. Mark, Morgan and Robert in all three races had us in good positions with a good plans and I did not execute. But sometimes you are balancing being aggressive and being smart.”
“ That last race was a good indication of how the boat is going. We were over once last year and it was here.”

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Marseille Trophy

TP52 Series
Overall - Day 2
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 1+3+1+2+1+2= 10 points
2. Matador (ARG), 2+6+4+1+2+5= 20 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA), 8+5+2+6+3+1= 25 points
4. Artemis (SWE), 7+28+5+5+3= 30 points
5. Bigamist (POR), 5+4+6+3+10+4= 32 points

GP42 Series
Overall - Day 1
1. Roma (ITA), 1+2+1= 4 points
2. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 2+1+3= 6 points
3. Turismo Madrid (ESP), 4+4+2= 10 points
4. Caser-Endesa (ESP), 3+3+4= 10 points
5. Swing (JPN), 6+5+5= 16 points

Audi MedCup

VOR: A Podium Finish for Green Dragon

The Green Dragon crew on stage in Marstrand. Image copyright Yongtao Jiang/Green Dragon Racing.

by Lucy Harwood

It was celebrations onboard Green Dragon this morning as they held onto a podium spot taking third place on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Galway to Marstrand. This marks two successive podium finishes for the Dragon and saw the seven boat fleet complete the 1,200 mile leg with 1 hour and 19 minutes splitting the fleet from front to back. Ericsson 4 managed to hold off a determined PUMA and Green Dragon to win Leg 8, taking them ever closer to winning the race overall. They now hold a 15-point lead with just three scoring opportunities left (for a maximum 20 points) before the finish in St. Petersburg.

This leg was one of the shortest so far but it was unrelenting on the crews as they tacked and gybed their way from Ireland to Sweden, there was no end of manoeuvres pushing the crews to exhaustion, Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker commented after the finish, “These shorter coastal legs are harder, from the moment we left Galway until the time we got here there was no time at all. We were constantly making decisions or changing sails or planning stuff. There was one short period in the middle where we managed to rest up and without that we would have been in real trouble. When we went through the Rotterdam loop and then it was windy downwind we were getting really tired at that point. I guess we recovered a bit and then it was very tiring again for the last 24 hours.”

Green Dragon battled to the end after sailing an excellent leg, which saw them in pole position on many occasions, but PUMA made a last minute pass in the early hours of this morning and crossed the line to take second just 50 seconds ahead of the Dragon. Green Dragon sailed with the front runners from day one, leading the fleet around the Fastnet Rock and on many occasions held pole throughout the leg as they tussled with Ericsson 4 and Telefonica Black for the lead “We sailed pretty much a perfect leg, so there’s no point in being upset,” Walker said. “This leg, there were a lot of big tactical gains. We sailed a very different route to everyone else in the race. It clearly paid. It was only at the end when we were all straight-line reaching that they all came smoking past us.”

Securing third place along with Ericsson 3 completing the leg in seventh place, means the battle for fourth place overall continues for Green Dragon with just 5.5 points separating the two boats with three scoring opportunities left, including an In Port race in Stockholm. The teams are on a restricted regime now in Marstrand as it is classified as a ‘pit-stop’ and not a stopover. AS a result, any repairs or maintenance have to be made by the crews, and no new sails, or food, or other material is permitted to be brought on board. Crew substitutions are allowed however and Huang Jian who filled in for Leg 8, will step off and Guo Chuan will step onboard again in his role as Media Crew Member for the remainder of the race. Leg 9 kicks off on Sunday (14/06/09) at 1300 local time (GMT + 2 hours).

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Team Delta Lloyd Takes Fifth Place after Spectacular Finish

Battle for fifth position decided in favour of Delta Lloyd. Image copyright Diana Bogaards/Team Delta Lloyd.

by Diana Bogaards

On the early morning of June 11 2009, Team Delta Lloyd (NED) took the fifth position just in the nick of time after a spectacular finish. In the final nautical miles of the eighth leg to Marstrand/Sweden, the Spanish Telefonica twins were faster than the Dutch entry. However, by a daring final sprint through the islands, skipper Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) and his crew still beat Telefonica Black. At 05:38 hours local time, the fifth position was a fact, followed by an explosion of joy. Ericsson 4 took the third consecutive win.

The crucial gybe. Image copyright Diana Bogaards/Team Delta Lloyd.

Minutes after the gun skipper Bermúdez de Castro (ESP) smiled and congratulated boat captain Nick Bice (AUS): "He and the shore crew have done a great job on maintaining the boat. She is responding really well." Bermúdez de Castro says he is happy with their performance as a crew: "We fought from the start till the end. It was an exciting and nice leg full of maneuvers, shifts and currents. I am satisfied, because the whole team did a fantastic job every day. We are still improving and that is important. Especially with such a short leg it is hard to push them that hard."

His fellow countryman and trimmer David Pella also liked the sailing very much: "For me it hasn't been a really tough leg, just enjoyable. Personally, I found myself in the best shape. We have had several days without sleeping, but we have been able to spare ourselves in order to be ok for the last stage of the race."

Close battle for fifth position. Image copyright Diana Bogaards/Team Delta Lloyd.

Verbraak called the close finish after 1,250 nautical miles 'really incredible': "The normal choice is the right side of the entrance to Marstrand, as there are many rocks on the left side. But is was our only chance to pass the Spaniards, so we took on the challenge." That is how Delta Lloyd came across on starboard tack, with Telefonica Black on port tack at the right side of the entrance. "We could just gibe on top of them and that was it. Fantastic moment", jubilated Verbraak.

A short review
"It was very intense, as there were only options related to low pressure areas", reviewed Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak the eight leg of Galway to Marstrand. "The weather models were useless, so it was about thinking and finding new possibilities. The choice before Rotterdam was between east or west. We chose the right side and picked up some breeze, whereas Ericsson 3 went to the west, which was the direct line. We had to invest in going to the east, but it paid off."

It was blowing along the Dutch coast. Verbraak continues: "We had again to make a decision whether to stay a little longer in that pressure or where to cross the low. It kept us busy u ntil yesterday morning." Verbraak explains how they gained five miles on their way to Denmark: "The front runners set course to the Danish coast, whereas we went already to the north."

Since the Delta Lloyd Gate Race, the NED 1 has climbed from a fifth to third position, followed by a drop to the sixth place. Verbraak: "That was caused by a lack of boat speed. Telefonica Blue and Black were simply faster. That is a pity, but also a fact we have to live with. We finally came back by sailing smart."

Birthday present
An early finish was the team's birthday present for Ed van Lierde, who turns 34 today. Van Lierde: "It was a tough leg. Directly after the start we were smoking along the Irish coast, sailing full throttle to the Fastnet Rock and then we were playing tactical games in light conditions through the Channel. So, many sail changes and less sleep." Bowman Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED) agrees: "This night, we went throug h the whole sail inventory, starting with the Code Zero to the A3 and A4. Hoisting and dropping stay sails. So, it was great to beat Telefonica Black in the end. Almost emotional." But Poortman thinks they could do better: "Green Dragon sailed a perfect race. They made no mistakes and that with a slower boat. We should be able too."

Results eighth leg:
1. Ericsson 4
3. Green Dragon
4. Telefónica Blue
5. Delta Lloyd
6. Telefónica Black
7. Ericsson 3

Overall leaderboard after eight legs:
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 102 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 87.0 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 86.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 64.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 59.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 42.0 points
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 35.0 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

Team Delta Lloyd
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Ericsson Racing Team Leads Volvo Ocean Race to Sweden

Ericsson 4 arrives first into Marstrand. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

by Victoria Low

Ericsson 4 led Ericsson Racing Team's return to its homeland by winning Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race here this morning just after daybreak.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Brazilian Olympic medalist Torben Grael, crossed the finish line at XXXX and added another 8 points to its total. Stablemate Ericsson 3 finished in the 1250-mile leg seventh place arriving at finish line in the resort of Marstrand, an island near Gothenberg, at 6:16 am local time (0416 GMT).

Torben Grael: a happy skipper. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

"It's a good position to be in now," said Grael, 49, of Niteroi, Brazil. "It was a very rough leg. A bad result would've put us under a lot of pressure, this result does the opposite. For us it couldn't be any better. Winning the leg, it's fantastic."

The win gives the international team a 15-point cushion at the top of the results table.

The final 20 nautical miles were nail-biting for the sailors and fans alike. Ericsson 4 held a 4 mile lead clearing Skagen on the northern tip of Denmark, but led into lighter winds and watched the bow lights of the competition behind grow brighter. With 10 miles to go Ericsson 4's lead was down to 2 miles, but that was as close as it would get.

"We're all very tired," Grael said. "We're a little better now than when we were at Holland. That was the time when we were most tired."

The International crew had an eventful leg, one that saw them clear out the port steering wheel and part of the helmsman's guard rail in a spectacular broach last Saturday, the first night offshore from Galway.

Trimmer Tony Mutter said the crew was pushing hard when a squall came through, and they got caught with too much sail area flying.

"We had about 40 knots," Mutter said. "We tried to persevere. It went well for awhile, but then we wiped out at high speed. There was so much water over the leeward rail. We treated the boat pretty badly, but she got us here."

The crew recouped and led at the Scilly Islands, but then got passed by Green Dragon and Telefónica Black, both farther out in the English Channel and taking advantage of a wind shift.

Ericsson 4 celebrate their leg win. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

Ericsson 4 got back into the lead two days later approaching the Rotterdam Loop. Ericsson 4 got to the west of Green Dragon and Telefónica Black and found a building and lifting breeze off the Belgium coastline from a low-pressure system and led the fleet up through the North Sea.

The final 130 miles were a game of covering the competition and Ericsson 4 kept a tight clamp on its competition.

"But this leg was really hard," said bowman Phil Jameson. "On average the guys got two hours sleep, if they were lucky. I reckon we got six hours each for the trip. Everyone's tired and worn out, but thrilled with the results. It was great racing, tight all the way."

Ericsson 3, skippered Magnus Olsson of Stockholm, were disappointed with their seventh place finish.

"It hurts so bad. We're completely disappointed with the leg but happy to be in Marstrand," said Olsson, competing in his sixth Volvo Ocean Race. "We got it a bit wrong. After that we never succeeded to catch up."

Ericsson 3 got stuck on the wrong side of a low pressure system off Belgium and never managed to recover fully however, in the closing stages they did pull within 14 nautical miles of the lead.

Ericsson 3 arrive into Marstrand. Image copyright Oskar Kihlborg/Ericsson Racing Team.

"We came back quite well," said navigator Aksel Magdahl. "Today we crossed some tacks with Delta Lloyd and Telefónica Black. But they got into a cloud and disappeared in a second."

"Two hours on the wrong tack ruined the whole leg," said the navigator. "I think it was a combination of being tired and not being alert."

Olsson said the leg was difficult because of the many maneuvers required the ever-changing conditions, and vowed to review the leg to be ready for the next.

"We were there, we just got it wrong," Olsson said. "We're going to talk about it and see if we can understand what happened. It hurts so bad."

Ericsson Racing Team
Volvo Ocean Race

Thursday, 11 June 2009

VOR: PUMA Second into Marstrand in Dramatic Leg Finish

PUMA second overall with two legs remaining

PUMA arriving in Marstrand. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kate Fairclough

In a dramatic finish to an intense five day leg from Galway, Ireland to Marstrand, Sweden, PUMA finished leg eight of the Volvo Ocean Race in second place at 05:04:46 local (03:04:46 GMT) this morning. The PUMA team staged an incredible comeback in the final 24 hours of the leg, crossing the line less than a minute ahead of third placed Green Dragon in yet another incredibly close finish. With two legs of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 remaining, second place in leg eight moves the PUMA Ocean Racing team into second place overall.

PUMA reaches Marstrand. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

After falling back to seventh place on Tuesday night having destroyed one of their key sails and being caught in the light winds of a low pressure system, the PUMA team were thrilled to finish second. Skipper Ken Read (USA) attributed the comeback to the decisions of navigator Andrew Cape (AUS) and the hard-willed determination of the eleven man team. Welcomed by a flotilla of spectator boats in the early morning light and with hundreds of spectators crowding the rocky shores of the island of Marstrand, the team celebrated on stage before heading off for some well-deserved sleep.

Kenny Read before stepping off the boat. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented: “I am so proud of this team, and I give Andrew Cape (AUS) a ton of credit. 24 hours ago we had all the reason to quit in this leg, things looked really bad. The centre of the low had gobbled us up far to the east of where we thought it was, our running kite was destroyed and the fleet was literally sailing away from us; we thought we had really screwed it up. But Capey (Andrew Cape) refused to quit, he said ‘you know what, we can either follow them in or we can try to do something about it’. Our Plan B was to sail through a gale to get to the northerly winds that got us back in the fleet…and it worked. We’re a happy, exhausted crew, and I can’t tell you how much they all mean to me. The idea of quitting does not exist in this team. It seems that when something goes wrong, it brings out the best in us. The toll this kind of racing takes on you both physically and mentally is unreal. I can't thank the team enough for their determination and desire. I am very proud of this team. Very proud.”

Rob Greenhalgh does the champagne honours. Image copyright Sally Collison/PUMA Ocean Racing.

The PUMA team will now spend the next three days in Marstrand, Sweden, the only Pitstop of the race. By race rules, no members of the shore team are allowed onboard the boat during this stopover. Any maintenance must be carried out by the sailors themselves. Leg nine starts at 13:00 local (11:00 GMT/07:00 EDT) on Sunday 14th June.

PUMA Ocean Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Images from the Finish of Leg 8

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Crowds gather in the race village at the end of leg 8 in Marstrand. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Delta Lloyd, skippered by Roberto Bermudez (ESP) finish fifth on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 03:38:12 GMT 11/06/09. Telefonica Black, skippered by Fernando Echavarri (ESP) finish sixth on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 03:38:31 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Delta Lloyd, skippered by Roberto Bermudez (ESP) finish fifth on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 03:38:12 GMT 11/06/09. Telefonica Black, skippered by Fernando Echavarri (ESP) finish sixth on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 03:38:31 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG EIGHT DAY 5 QFB: received 10.06.09 0359 GMT

Concentration onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Kenny Read

I don't know where to start. Many people have asked if I could write a book about this Around the World adventure and the truth is I could write a book about this leg only! It has been an amazing ride--and to think it has only 4 1/2 days.

Without getting into the gory details of the entire leg, let me re-start from yesterday, when I wrote one of the most depressing blogs of my Volvo career. Trying to sound upbeat was hard. We were dark. We were wondering how we got into the mess we were in, and we had to split from the fleet, certainly not something we wished to do. But we also had a plan B and we were going to execute it come hell or high water. Capey (Andrew Cape – navigator) was on his game and we had a plan.

The low pressure centre was clearly positioned more east than we thought, and that was the way it gobbled us up. So in looking back on it, this was also the reason we could escape to the west quickly as well. Two hours of near drifting in the middle and the most horrible three hour position report possible with the entire fleet putting something like 35 miles on us. Well that was only to get worse. Because I think it was the same for the next three scheds as well.

Next came the gale. Yup, 40 knots upwind again, while reading the reports of the rest of the fleet having a lovely sail to Sweden. This was the price we had to pay to get to the northerlies that would eventually catapult us back into the game. And came they did. The high side of the low, where the wind died to 20 knots and we had a roaring reach back to the fleet, while it was their turn to sit in the middle of the centre of the low. But the final spot was still quite unclear.

Now we needed a final bit of luck. And finally lady luck was on our side. We were well positioned offshore the north side of Denmark to get into more breeze hopefully. But we didn't expect a 20 knot squall that shot us down the coast on a reach, while the rest of the fleet was inshore beating off the beach. Jackpot. We had our chance and took it. The next sched we were back in third and knew that we had a bit of reaching to go and we had an outside chance at the Dragons in that stuff.

And reach we did. Right through another rain squall and when it lifted there were the Dragons about 100 metres to leeward! Scared the heck out of the group on deck. We got over the top of them and defended to the most improbable second place finish I have ever seen, or been a part of. And I know I keep saying that. I mean it.

And it is driving us crazy that we can't just sail normally. The toll it takes both physically and mentally is

Unreal. Tonight's sleep will be a good one.

Finally, a couple comments about this team, especially Andrew Cape. We all had a chance to quit on this one. Things looked bleak. Our broken spinnaker turned into an unlucky mistake and things looked really bad, really bad. But Capey said...we can follow them all in, or we can at go get our ass kicked by Mother Nature and have a shot at them. I agreed of course. And off we went. Not a complaint in the bunch. We went for it and were rewarded and I can't thank this sailing team enough for their determination and desire. I am very proud of this team. Very proud.

Now off to bed. I think we have to do this again really soon.

Maybe some day before the end of this adventure we will just do something normally... I doubt it.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Three in a Row for Ericsson 4 in Thrilling Leg Eight Finish

Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael (BRA) finish first on leg 8 from Galway to Marstrand, crossing the line at 02:57:19 GMT 11/06/09. Image copyright Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Sophie Luther

Ericsson 4 has done it again. In a thrilling finish to leg eight of the Volvo Ocean Race from Galway to Marstrand, Sweden, Ericsson 4 pulled out all the stops to take a third leg win in a row. PUMA finished second and, after a heroic effort from the crew, Green Dragon clung on to third place, to complete the same order of finish as for leg seven.

Although Ericsson 4’s overall lead now seems unassailable (102 points overall), with just two legs to go until the finish of the race in St Petersburg later this month, the battle for second place has intensified. Bouwe Bekking’s fourth place on this leg has caused the Telefónica Blue team to lose their second place overall to PUMA (87 points overall) and they now trail by one point.

However, at the head of the field and after five days of relentless racing, Ericsson 4 made her way to the front on day four, arriving at the Rotterdam Gate in first place. Positions swapped regularly as the fleet toughed out typical North Sea conditions, and it was by no means certain that Ericsson 4’s lead was a given thing.

On arrival in Marstrand this morning, Brazilian skipper Torben Grael was very matter of fact about his team’s victory and prospects of an overall win. “It was a very important result, a very close race. Green Dragon was sailing really well and they had an excellent leg. They went to the front and just stayed there.

“We wanted to have a good result. This is a nice step towards the main goal. I have to thank this wonderful group because it was a tough leg, a difficult race and even though it was hard, people were in a good mood on board. We're very close to winning the race, but we're not there yet,” he concluded.

Piling on the pressure right from the start in Galway when they led the fleet round the Fastnet Rock off the southwestern tip of Ireland, Ian Walker and his crew on Green Dragon sailed a fantastic leg. Fighting off Telefónica Black by daring to go through the notorious Alderney Race, their final relegation to third position in the closing stages of this leg was, perhaps, undeserved.

Green Dragon is immediately behind PUMA at the finish of leg 8, the two boats filling the other podium positions, behind Ericsson 4. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Skipper Ian Walker said, “We sailed pretty much a perfect leg, so there's no point in being upset. They [PUMA] just did one perfect sched where they did something like 36 miles dead upwind. I don't know how they did it to be honest. Until then, they were down and out. We were torn between going over to cover them and trying to sail our own race. If it was going to be a reach to the finish, they're about 10 per cent quicker so we figured we'd need about seven miles. We got back about five miles ahead of them, and it wasn't quite enough.”

The crew of PUMA, after wrecking their biggest spinnaker, had a difficult time to keep the morale onboard positive. With their best sail in pieces, the crew had no choice but to cross the low pressure by sailing northwest for a while. A move that certainly paid off when the team came steaming in like an express train from the north and snatched second place from the claws of the Dragon.

“My hat is off for PUMA’s brave move, which was very close to making them win this race,” said Telefónica Black’s navigator Roger Nilson, who after leading for a while finished in sixth place and witnessed PUMA blowing out their sail earlier in the leg.

In his last email from the boat before crossing the finish, PUMA’s skipper, Kenny Read said, “We were wondering how we got into the mess we were in, and we had to split from the fleet, certainly not something we wished to do. But, we had a plan B and were going to execute it come hell or high water. Next came the gale. Forty knots upwind again, while reading the reports of the fleet having a lovely sail to Sweden. This was the price we had to pay to get to the northerlies that would eventually catapult us back into the game.

On reaching the dock in Marstrand, Read was ecstatic: “The 'no-quit' in this team is beyond imagination. We had every reason to quit and I think we're kind of stunned to be honest. Twenty-four hours ago, we were sailing with a triple reef and a number four upwind in a gale, while the other guys were running down the coast. I give Andrew Cape a lot of credit. We got ourselves in a tough spot and he got us out of it. He could have said 'let's just follow them in' and he didn't. He deserves a ton of credit.

“I almost feel bad for Green Dragon. They sailed a great race. That's their best effort yet. We had a little pace on them in reaching conditions and we just pipped them,” Read said.

The Volvo fleet is now safely moored in Marstrand. Finishing further down the order were Telefónica Blue (4th), who now slips to third place overall, Delta Lloyd who stole points on the finish line for fifth place from one-time leg leader Telefónica Black, and Ericsson 3 who finished in seventh.

The stop in Marstrand is brief, and, as a ‘pit-stop’, any repairs that need to be carried out to the boats will have to be done by the already exhausted crews themselves as shore crew assistance in a pit-stop is against the rules. The fleet leaves Marstrand for Stockholm on Sunday 14 June.

Leg Eight Finishing Order Marstrand
1. Ericsson 4
3. Green Dragon
4. Telefónica Blue
5. Delta Lloyd
6. Telefónica Black
7. Ericsson 3

Overall Leaderboard
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 102 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 87.0 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 86.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 64.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 59.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 42.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 35.0 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

Rotterdam Gate Race
1. Ericsson 3: in 12 mins 40 secs
2. PUMA: in 14 mins 03 secs
3. Telefónica Black: in 14 mins 55 secs
4. Telefónica Blue: in 14 mins 56 secs
5. Green Dragon: in 14 mins 58 secs
6. Delta Lloyd: in 15 mins 03 secs
7. Ericsson 4: in 15 mins 11 secs

Dover Strait Exit Order 8 June 2009
(as the fleet crossed the latitude of Broadstairs, Kent)
1. Green Dragon
2. Telefónica Black
3. PUMA 00
4. Delta Lloyd
5. Ericsson 3
6. Telefónica Blue
7. Ericsson 4

Dover Strait Entry Order 7 June 2009
1. Telefónica Black
2. Green Dragon
3. Ericsson 3
4. Ericsson 4
6. Delta Lloyd
7. Telefónica Blue

Fastnet Rock Rounding Order 6 June 2009
1. Green Dragon 22:46:34 GMT
2. PUMA 22:51:51 GMT
3. Telefónica Blue 22:53:15 GMT
4. Ericsson 4 22:55:20 GMT
5. Ericsson 3 22:56:23 GMT
6. Delta Lloyd 23:14:15 GMT
7. Telefónica Black 23:23:50 GMT

Volvo Ocean Race


Telefonica Black, skippered by Fernando Echavarri (ESP), at the Rotterdam Gate. Image copyright Ronald Koelink -

by Roger Nilson (navigator)

Onboard Telefónica Black we are now 63 nm from the finish and are involved in a good fight with Telefónica Blue close ahead and Delta Lloyd close behind.

We are reaching fully loaded up in 14 knots of breeze from the north. Our large masthead genoa is up, which gives us a boatspeed of 15 knots along the Danish coast. The sail got the nickname, The Anaconda, earlier, as it looks like a huge snake when it is rolled up and put in its bag.

Hirsthals is the next corner we will pass on this misty, cold Scandinavian night. The traffic here is intense and as I write, we are overtaking a small cargo ship, only 200 metres to windward. They turn on their huge strobe light as they surely wonder what is coming along sailing at this speed.

This race has kept me as navigator at full alert almost 24 hours a day. It has been very hard to find enough time to sleep. A rough guess is no more than 2-3 hours a day. The same goes for most of our crew and the pressure has been the same on all other boats. Certainly life at its extreme.

After we left the gate outside Rotterdam, in third place, we were painfully slow as we were missing our biggest gennaker. The sail literally exploded as we were in leading position approached the Rotterdam gate.

After leaving the gate, Puma came like an express train from behind and we could witness when her biggest gennaker also exploded. Missing her important running gennaker probably made them choose the gutsy route crossing the Low, going North West for a while in order to catch the strong NW’ly flow on the North Western quadrant of the low... A calculated gamble of which outcome was clear tonight when she came reaching more from the north and could slide into third place behind Ericsson 4 and Dragon. My hat off for Puma’s brave move which was very close to make them win this race.

The rest of us went the more conservative route, running on the east side of the Low.

At Horns reef just off the Espbjerg we had an unexpected rendezvous with our stablemate Telefónica Blue. She appeared out of the mist as a Flying Dutchman and we crossed gybes, only two boat lengths behind her. After losing contact, we met again tonight after we picked up a favourable wind shift, but she is still a few hundred metres ahead...What a race!

With this speed all the boats could finish within 1 hour and 45 minutes if the lifting N’ly holds all the way into Marstrand. More than ever I am longing for a good rest, but in a few days we carry on to Stockholm. During this stopover we are not allowed to have the shore crew taking care of the jobs. As in the good old days we have to fix the repairs ourselves, not something we are looking forward to during this brief visit in The Pearl of the Swedish West coast.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: Marstrand Finish - Ericsson 4 from PUMA and Green Dragon

Ericsson 4 wins into Marstrand. It's their third consecutive leg victory. PUMA and Green Dragon finish minutes later, just 200 metres apart, soon followed by Telefonica Blue and then Delta Lloyd, who crossed the line half a boat length ahead of Telefonica Black. Ericsson 3 brought up the rear.

Ericsson 4 leads the way into Marstrand at the end of Leg 8. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Thursday, 11 June 2009, 03:25 GMT UPDATE

At the dock, a tired Grael reported, "It was a tough leg. It was a very difficult race; even though it was hard, everyone on board was in a good mood. This is a very nice step towards the main goal."


Ericsson 4 wins leg 8 from Galway. It's the third win on the trot for Torben Grael and his men as they hold off a hard-charging PUMA. The victory gives them eight more points on the leaderboard, taking their total to 102.


The first six boats are within sight of each other as Ericsson 4 closes in on Marstrand. A respectable spectator fleet of nearly 50 boats is escorting the leaders in towards Marstrand, now just four miles away. Look for a finish with 20 minutes.

PUMA surfing early on leg 8. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.


PUMA, having passed Green Dragon nearly two hours ago is now taking a run at Ericsson 4. They are less than two miles back, having cut the Ericsson lead in half. But there is only about eight miles to run to the finish. Do they have enough runway? We're inside the final hour now...


Telefonica Blue's Gabri Olivo talks to Guy Swindells as his boat approaches the finish line. You can listen to him speak about the battle with PUMA right here.

Torben Grael and Green Dragon off Denmark, onboard Ericsson 4, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.


There is a great battle shaping up between the Telefonica twins. Here, Roger Nilson, navigator on the Black boat, describes how close the racing is:

"At Horns reef just off the Espbjerg we had an unexpected rendez-vous with our stablemate Telefonica Blue. She appeared out of the mist as a Flying Dutchman and we crossed gybes, only 2 boat lengths behind her. After losing contact we met again tonight after we picked up a favourable wind shift but she is still a few hundred meters ahead...

"What a race! With this speed all the boats could finish within 1 hour and 45 minutes if the lifting N'ly holds all the way into Marstrand. More than ever I am longing for a good rest but in a few days we carry on to Stockholm. During this stopover we are not allowed to have the shore crew taking care of the jobs. As in the good old days we have to fix the repairs our selves, not something we are looking forward to during this brief visit in The Pearl of the Swedish West coast."


Ericsson 4 are about 90 minutes away - 21 miles or so doing near 14 knots.

Ericsson 4 surfing early on leg 8. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.


The leading boats are around the tip of Denmark now and about two hours from the finish line off Marstrand. Welcome to our leg finish blog. We'll keep you up to date iwth the latest information right here.

Currently, it looks like a finish time between 0200 and 0230 GMT, or just after 0400 local time in Sweden.

We have a boat on the water, with the leading bunch, and the report is that PUMA has just passed Green Dragon to take second place. Ericsson 4 is about four miles ahead of them both. The water is flat, the breeze is steady and the boats are making 12 to 15 knots.

Ericsson 4 surfing early on leg 8. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG EIGHT DAY 5 QFB: received 10.06.09 2028 GMT

Leaving the Rotterdam Gate Race, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gabri Olivo

This is simply crazy... This morning we've been through the transition of the low and we were with no wind at all. Knowing that the others were sailing along nicely, we were feeling like a mouse stuck in a trap... not nice at all.

After few hours, we realised that it wasn't too bad, our friends on Telefónica Black were still behind us with Delta Lloyd next to it and, more important than anything, Puma was 20 miles away.

By the time we got into the coast trying to get to Roshage point, the wind turned from a nice reaching angle into a nasty beat swinging 60 to the right. Because of the angle between the coast line and the new wind, we have now to tack every 10 minutes with full stack every time, trying to climb up until the top of Denmark which is 70 miles away.

Everyone is awake and fully operating in inshore mode and we will have to tack at least 25 times in the next four hours. If you think of all what we have been through until now, this could be defined as a ‘mass suicide’, where we all could be persecuted by the law as some kind of ‘religious fans’, where our God is the willing to win. But all the fun isn't over yet, if the last 100 miles plans out like the leg has been so far, well ‘better put your seat belt on’.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG EIGHT DAY 5 QFB: received 10.06.09 1943 GMT

Concentration onboard PUMA Ocean Racing, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Rick Deppe

This morning as I tried to take pictures that would convey the mood on board it occurred to me that red for once looked like a sad coloUr - the grey skies and dark coloring of the ocean gave the guys a kind of surreal look because the red clothing made them stand out so much... On top of the depression on deck a few of the guys joked that Capey and Ken were on suicide watch in the nav station!

Well it's a different story now... we just got the 1900 report in and it shows us back in fourth and only 13 miles behind Ericsson 4 who leads, amazing when you consider that this morning we were over a hundred miles behind!

Significantly, Telefonica Blue is a mere 2.2 miles ahead but well inshore from us and a wind shift one way or the other could make all the difference, the next few scheds will tell the story. Hang on a minute, I hear a commotion on deck...

...Green Dragon just crossed our bow by about 2 miles and we can see Ericsson 4 up ahead about 4 miles, this means that we have done very well offshore and the pack on the beach are trying to get out to the pressure that we have been sailing in. The guys that do this gig tend towards the non-emotional, but I tell you people are singing to themselves right now, which is amazing.

Things are unfolding too quickly right now so I'm going to sign off and shoot some video before I lose the light...

Volvo Ocean Race

Audi MedCup: Kiwi Magic on Marseille Trophy Day 1

Emirates Team New Zealand seize the early initiative with two wins from three starts to lead the Marseille Trophy TP52 Series. Turismo Madrid win GP42 Practice Race.

Emirates Team New Zealand off Marseille. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

by Sabina Mollart-Rogerson

Emirates Team New Zealand confirmed that their powerful new Botin Carkeek designed TP52 is no slouch in lighter breezes when they won two of three races today on Marseille’s Rade Sud. Added to the third place in the day’s second windward-leeward contest the Kiwi team lead overall by seven clear points in the Audi MedCup Circuit’s Marseille Trophy.

Racing in six to eight knots of mainly SSW’ly winds on smooth Mediterranean seas and in perfect June sunshine, the winds scarcely built by more than a couple of knots through the course of the day, but there was always enough for the race committee to realise the target of three races in smart succession.

The New Zealand crew arrived smarting from having let a possible regatta win in Alicante slip through their fingers on the last race. But today the team were consistent in their strategies, often winning the favoured left side of the track, making two good starts and keeping their boat moving well in the light-moderate sea breeze.

After three races Emirates Team New Zealand lead the Marseille Trophy by a clear seven points from José Cusi’s Bribon (ESP) who won the second race, a victory which they bolted to a fifth and sixth. The only Spanish TP52 team on the Audi MedCup Circuit, with France’s double Olympic medallist Thierry Pepponet on the helm, earned a boost to their confidence after their modest 10th in Alicante and lie second overall, locked on 12 points the same as Alicante Trophy winners Matador (ARG).

With a regular dividend paid on the left of the course upwind, reaped towards the Marseille coast where the Pointe Rouge and its craggy 400m high Marseilleveyre mountain influences the breeze, clean, smart starting off the line was always paramount today. Often it was speed as much as position which was crucial, but Peponnet and tactician Ross MacDonald (CAN) conspired to make the start of the day to the second race when they jumped off the pin end and were never challenged again before taking their first winning gun this season on the waters where they finished third overall last year.

Watched by 20 young local Optimist sailors enjoying their Wednesday afternoon away from school, French hero Peponnet and crew gave the kids a text book display from start to finish.

Emirates Team New Zealand’s de-brief after Alicante seems to have improved their decision making, while Adam Beashel (NZL) strengthens their hand, sniffing out the best of the breeze – a role he accomplished with distinction during the team’s last America’s Cup campaigns.

“Conditions were much easier to read here than in Alicante” confirmed Ray Davies (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand’s tactician, “We had two good starts down the pin end when it was favoured, and then we moved up the line. When it was really congested we started off the line a little but much faster and were able to roll over everybody.”

“The boat is going really well in this steady breeze. As soon as we have the guys on the rail hiking we go really well.”

“In terms of the decision making after Alicante we decided that we needed to talk more and the more you talk and the more you can feel confidence in your decisions. It is working really well, and Adam Beashel is doing a superb job calling the breeze up the track and Kevin Hall has been doing some really good lay lines. Dean’s starting has been good, and that just means the crew work has been good and the atmosphere is really positive.”

“But, it is really easy to be positive when you are winning.” He smiles.

GP42 Practice Race. Madrid wins the practice race by a nose

Many sailors take practice races rather seriously, even though there’s an old superstition against winning it for fear of jinxing the outcome of the regatta when it really counts. It’s a time to not just get the team warmed up from their hiatus from the last event, but to try some new moves, new rig or sail settings, and new ideas while the competition is close at hand.

Roberto Monti’s Airis (ITA), driven by Cameron Appleton (NZL), rounded the last top mark with a substantial lead earned from a good start and superior pace in today’s light air seabreeze. But closing fast in this last leg was Jose Maria van der Ploeg’s Tourismo Madrid (ESP), challenging the composite Kiwi-Italian team to a furious gybing dual downwind. This in turn allowed Fillippo Farufini’s Roma 2 (ITA) to close their gap to now challenge the leaders into the final few hundred metres of the race.

Feeling the pressure, Airis gybed for the line while Madrid held out Roma to the pin end layline. Having gybed a bit too soon to lay the line, Airis had to gybe once more, which allowed Madrid to waltz in and bear away at the line to win the race by what could not have been more than a metre.

“That’s alright,” said a relaxed Appleton, “It’s never good luck to win the practice race anyway! But seriously, we felt good today and tried a few different things to be ready for the week.”


Ross Macdonald (CAN) tactician Bribon (ESP):
“We have to get better eveyday and seems to be working, we try to get faster and get off the starting line well, that's been our main Aquile's heel if you can call it like that we just haven't been getting into the front crew off the starting line and we seem to be doing a better job with that, Thierry did a phantastic start on the second race it made it realy easy to win we didn't have to do anything after that. So that's it we had two better starts in the last two races and first race we were lucky enough to get back in on a windshift.”

Emirates Team New Zealand heading for victory on Day 1 off Marseille. Image copyright Ian Roman/Audi MedCup.

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Marseille Trophy

TP52 Series
Overall - Day 1

1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 1+3+1= 5 points
2. Bribón (ESP), 6+1+5= 12 points
3. Matador (ARG), 2+6+4= 12 points
4. Quantum Racing (USA), 8+5+2= 15 points
5. Bigamist (POR), 5+4+6= 15 points

GP42 Series
Racing starting Thursday

Audi MedCup

VOR: Green Dragon - A Fight to the Finish

Green Dragon. Image copyright Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Lucy Harwood

With just over 100 miles remaining on this leg the fleet are facing their final night onboard as they plot the route towards Marstrand in Sweden. The fleet has undergone a compression throughout the day as the back of the pack closed in on the front runners, but the re-shuffle continues and it will be a fight to the finish into the early hours of tomorrow morning.

The battle for pole position continues and the lead has changed hands again today with Green Dragon edging back in front in the early hours of this morning, only for Torben Grael and his men to sneak ahead once more. The Dragon is still holding onto second just 3 miles from Ericsson 4, with Telefonica Blue closing in just 2 miles from the stern of Green Dragon. PUMA has seen the biggest gains and losses of the day, clawing back over 20 miles since this morning and moving up to third, only to once again find themselves at the back of the fleet 19 miles from the leader. Defending second place onboard Green Dragon will be hard for Ian Walker and his crew, conditions will stay light and tricky for the remainder of the leg and another tense finish awaits both the teams onshore and those onboard. It could be a long night and morning in Marstrand and a replay of the Leg 7 finish could be on the cards, this one really is too close to call.

The fleet have spent all day trying to dodge the centre of the low pressure system and get into the Baltic Sea as fast as possible. It was clear that hitting the centre would not have a happy ending as Ericsson 3 discovered earlier in the leg when they were caught in the light air in the centre of the low, costing them 40 miles on the fleet yesterday morning. Green Dragon and Ericsson 4 started the day stuck to each other like glue and remained the most inshore of all the boats, until later this afternoon when they both followed suit and made a move offshore to make their way around the northern tip of Denmark. PUMA still remains the furthest offshore after finally escaping the centre of the low and breaking out through the west side of the system in a move which may still pay off for them.

Volvo’s Race expert Mark Chisnell filled us in on the problem the navigators faced onboard today, “The forecast at that stage had the low pressure heading for Denmark on more or less the same path as the remaining six boats. Everyone was expecting to end up on the western side of the centre, in the same northerly breeze as PUMA. The real trick was to do it in such a way that the centre of the low pressure overtook them to the north, so the wind just shifted through the west into the north-west and then the north, rather than enduring the hours of light wind that PUMA had suffered by getting caught in the centre of the low.”

Ericsson 4 and Green Dragon were thrown some extra work as they had no place to go but north due to their position so far inshore, and as a result they were forced to gybe down the beach in order to round the tip of Denmark. Telefonica Blue, Delta Lloyd, Telefonica Black and Ericsson 3 decided to toake another option and stayed offshore, battling the centre of the low, but with the potential of sailing a better angle to the tip of Denmark once through the other side. The fleet are now in a role reversal as Green Dragon and Ericsson 4 find themselves offshore, whilst the Telefonica twins, Delta Lloyd and Ericsson 3 stay inshore and negotiate their way along the shoreline. The first finishers into Marstrand are expected at 0100 GMT tomorrow morning.

Leg Eight Day 5: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) 332 DTF
2. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR) + 3 nm
3. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) + 5 nm
4. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) + 7 nm
5. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) + 11 nm
6. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) + 15 nm
7. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) + 19 nm

Green Dragon Racing
Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG EIGHT DAY 5 QFB: received 10.06.09 1725 GMT

Sailing past wind farms, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Huang Jian/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Ian Walker

I cannot believe how changeable the conditions have been over the last 4 days and that is from someone who has sailed in the English Channel a lot.

Even now as we clear the top of Denmark we are having to contend with 60 degree windshifts but thankfully far less shipping. Ian Moore has done a great job navigating such tricky weather and thanks to these changeable conditions we have managed to maintain a top 3 place for a few days now.

Bad memories of losing miles day in day out whilst reaching in a trade wind procession seem a long time ago. Spirits have always remained high onboard the Dragon. One thing never ceases to amaze me about our team, which is that whatever conditions we face and however we are doing in the race everyone puts in the same amount of effort. It is easy to try harder when you are doing well and drop your spirits when things go badly but that doesn't happen because most of the guys have seen it all before.

The watches are metronomic. Hour in, hour out, day in day out and for that I can only applaud the guys. One thing I can tell you is that the race is a lot more fun when you are near the front and today was great swapping places with Ericsson 4 for the lead. They have extended recently but we can still see them just ahead.

We have now played what must be one of the last throws of the dice by heading out North on our approach to Skagen. This wasn't deliberate but was forced by the huge right shift at the time. Now we must sit tight and see if we have done enough to hold off the two Telefónica's. The conditions which have been atrocious with a classic North Sea head sea have abated and lighter air today has meant some much needed rest was possible. I'm planning a little nap now before the big push into the early hours into Marstrand. We have 110 miles to go and I do not want everyone's effort to have been for nothing.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: PUMA LEG EIGHT DAY 5 QFB: received 10.06.09 1024 GMT

il mostro is coming in hot out of left field! The big question is will there be enough runway for us to make up a 60 to 80 mile deficit on our competition? We've been making as much as 25 miles per sched. Image copyright Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing.

by Rick Deppe

Il Mostro is coming in hot out of left field! The big question is will there be enough runway for us to make up a 60 to 80 mile deficit on our competition, we've been making as much as 25 miles per sched. We know for sure that we have way more pressure than they do in there on the Danish coast but our tracks are converging and we only have about 100 miles to the northern tip of Denmark where we make a turn and head for Marstrand. All we can do is sail as fast as possible and hope for a break.

A tough night for all on board, cold, bumpy and knowing that there is a huge deficit to make up creates for a sombre mood. The grey skies add the finishing touch to the misery.

We or maybe just myself, perhaps naively thought we were finished with this type of tough uncomfortable sailing.... big mistake, because the North Sea can be a nasty place as I'm sure many have learned over the years - its relatively shallow depth causes the waves stand up very quickly and they have a very short and aggressive aspect.

The boat is lurching from wave to wave and every now and then comes off one that makes your teeth rattle, I have a pounding headache right now from the constant pounding... a quick aside, I think I'm going soft because I've been finding this trip really tough, even succumbing to a bit of sea sickness the first day out, I never had that before. So don't read too much into my whining, I'm under no illusion about how much harder the guys have it than me, but hey we all have our jobs to do.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: ERICSSON 4 LEG EIGHT DAY 5 QFB: received 10.06.09 1324 GMT

Torben Grael at the helm of Ericsson 4, with Green Dragon chasing, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Guy Salter

Tense times aboard Ericsson 4 as we battle up the west coast of Denmark. Our sparring partners in the match race are Green Dragon - who it has to be said are much improved of recent times, whether it’s due to a gained confidence and renewed support from Ireland or due to the extra thousand or so team members they have enlisted via the online game. But, whatever the reason, Ian and boys have been sailing well. The question for us is; are we duelling for first and second at the moment or are we fighting for sixth and seventh?

With the spread across the fleet and the way the wind and weather has been, both could be realistic outcomes. Puma are way to the west and are romping along on every sched - it all depends on what the low pressure decides it wants to do and, ultimately, who will be first into Marstrand. Everyone is gripped by the scheds as they come in - more so than usual if that is possible and, as we sit on the edges of our seats, all we can do is wait and see and keep our fingers crossed.

What we can do here off the coast of Denmark is fight our own little fight and let the rest play itself out - after all it’s not like we have a hyperspace button at hand to move us from where we are to a better position.

The wind has been extremely fickle to say the least - searching for light winds and trying fruitlessly to avoid the calm parking lots. When I say we are sailing up the coast of Denmark - I really do mean up the coast - we are literally on the beach and very rarely stray too far from the shore line. It means we are getting a good look at the glorious looking beaches and sand dunes. At one stage we were forced to gybe away from the shore or run aground. As we did this we could see a man walking his dog and going about his day oblivious to what 11 stupid men were doing on a yacht just outside of the surf-line.

We battled light spots and rather extreme wind shifts and could see that the best place was to sail on the less favoured gybe and get back inshore to where it appeared there still to be the odd zephyr. When we got back inshore about 15 mins later we were just barely 100m further up the coast and could see one man and his dog returning from their walk - at that point he would have been wondering why we wouldn’t be using our engine - crazy sailors!

The rest of the crew are still surviving well off barely no sleep and at present are either moving the sails around to counteract the occasional puff or sleeping in full gear. That’s why you are reading my thoughts today (again!!!) and not those of one of the real heroes onboard - apologies.

It’s definitely a little cold on deck but gets a whole lot nicer when the sun manages to find a clear spot in the grey and slightly damp sky. We may have only been out here a few days but it feels like weeks, but a change to the normal psychology is that the excitement of being onshore after a long period afloat isn’t present even though we have well under 200nm left to go.

This will be a hard fought and often scrappy fight to the finish and all I can guarantee is that all onboard Ericsson 4 will put in every ounce they have to get us to the pit stop as quick as is humanly possible - nothing new there!

So it’s looking like sail changes and gear changes galore!

See you in Marstrand

Volvo Ocean Race

WMRT: Minoprio Bounces Back to the Top

5th Place at Korea Match Cup Gives the Kiwi Team a One Point Lead Over Team Origin

Adam Minoprio looks back to see he has been penalised in his quarter final match against Paolo Cian. Korea Match Cup 2009, Gyeonggi-do, Korea 2009. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

by Yvonne Reid

Adam Minoprio’s ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing regained the lead of the World Match Racing Tour Championship following his 5th place finish at the Korea Match Cup. After a stunning Round Robin performance, Minoprio’s run was ended by eventual event winner Paolo Cian who has now leapt up the leaderboard to 6th place. Cian’s late charge in Korea, taking 8 wins from 9 starts, brought him the top prize of 70 million Korean Won.

For the second year in a row Ian Williams’ Bahrain Team Pindar took second place in Korea after a long wait for the wind to fill in and a shortened, first to 2 points, final competition. Williams took a much needed 20 points away with him and now lies in 4th place on the Tour with a total of 34 points.

Following victory at Match Race Germany, Ben Ainslie and Team Origin had high hopes in Korea and the plan was coming together until they met Paolo Cian in the semi-finals where Ainslie was dispatched to the Petit Final 3-0. Ainslie beat Bjorn Hansen 2-1 securing 3rd place and 15 Championship points to add to the 25 from Germany, taking him up to second place on the Tour and within a point of the lead.

Still hanging in there in 3rd place with 36 points on the Tour despite a disappointing Korea Match Cup is the French Match Racing Team of Mathieu Richard. As joint leader following Germany, Mathieu was looking to cement his lead but a few tough breaks dashed his hopes of holding on to the top spot.

Also grabbing points in Korea were the Perth pair of Peter Gilmour and Torvar Mirsky who now fill out the Tour top 8 in 7th and 8th respectively. For Gilmour a third place performance in Germany and 6th in Korea have lifted the YANMAR Racing team above the chasing pack and put them in a solid position to attack the championship in the next few events. Mirsky must also be looking forward to the next few events and the chance to pull back some points on his Tour leading rival Adam Minoprio.

The Tour now moves on to Troia for the Portugal Match Cup 16–21 June raced in SM40’s off the beach in the newly developed resort at the top of the Troia peninsular. Last years winner, Seb Col, will be looking to regain some of last years form that saw him finish runner up in the Tour but has so far this year eluded him.

Tour Standings
(After 3 of 10 events)
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch 41points
2. Ben Ainslie, (GBR), Team Origin 40 points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Team 35 points
4. Ian Williams (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar 34 points
5. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Team 32 points
6. Paolo Cian (ITA), Shosholoza 32 points
7. Peter Gilmour (AUS), YANMAR Racing 23 points
8. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 21 points

World Match Racing Tour

VOR: ERICSSON 3 LEG EIGHT DAY 5 QFB: received 10.06.09 1121 GMT

A tired Magnus Olsson, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gustav Morin

It ain’t over

No breeze and an ETA which said we had six days to go to Marstrand. That’s what we were looking at this morning and, at the same time, we were still at the back of the fleet, with only PUMA behind us. And they were doing good speed...

Now, at lunchtime, we have got some breeze back, around 10 knots from 300 degrees and it seems that the centre of the low pressure has now moved from our shoulders. Nice.

We spent the time in the light to sleep, repair and telling stories. Our sailmaker Martin Strömberg was the busiest. Our big gennaker needed some love. We ripped the foot of it in a gybe yesterday and Martin now repaired it with spray glue and some ‘sticky back’. The clew also needed some reinforcement which Martin solved with some good old needle and thread work.

Of course we are not to happy about our situation here along the coast of Denmark, but we keep on struggling, hoping that some kind of over taking lane will show up as we get closer.

“This place is always very tricky. On the Round Sjaelland races I have sailed the wind has always done unexpected things”, says Thomas Johanson.

“Well, we will for sure not give up before the fat lady has sung”, Richard Mason concludes.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLACK LEG EIGHT DAY 4 QFB: received 09.0-6.09 2016 GMT

Sunset cruising onboard Telefonica Black, with Ericsson 3 on the horizon, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright AntonPaz/Telefonica Black/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Roger Nilson (navigator)

Onboard Telefónica Black we have been going through three very hectic days, the last day more so than the others.

Sleep management has been an issue and I can hardly recall a race with less sleep. No hallucinations, but having a hard time to remember certain simple things. The intensity of the racing has been high and have left very little time over for ‘charging our batteries’.

When we approached the Channel Islands, it was obvious that we had to face some nasty foul tide, in order to stay in some descent wind pressure. At the SW corner of Alderney Island we were still ahead of Dragon. The question was, should we pass through the nasty Alderney Race east of the island, or go through the gap close to the north of Alderney, south of a bunch of nasty rocks...? Both alternatives risky.
We decided to split gybes with Dragon and let them go into the infamous tidal race east of Alderney and we stayed close north of the island.

What I did not know was that the tidal race immediately north of the island was as bad as Alderney Race. Suddenly we were caught in a tidal river, gybing back and forth in the 1000 metre passage, between rocks. The ripping tide going against us gave us the extra apparent wind to make progress. One missed gybe and we could be have been thrown upon the rocks. The tidal race brought up some scary waves that picked up the stern of the boat and kicked us around.

Well clear of the island, we saw the topmast navigation lights of Dragon a mile or two ahead. They had won this little battle but we passed them again just north of Cherbourg...

The passage of Dover Strait was less dramatic, but after the strait a new challenge was waiting. A weak low covered the southern North Sea and our weather models suggested an easy crossing, right onto the exclusion zone near Rotterdam, in a clocking breeze.

But things turned out differently as the little low decided to be a bit further south, causing the breeze go left instead of right. Dragon was on our heels all night, beating among hordes of shipping and oil rigs.

A few times we negotiated with the officer on watch and made more than one ship change course for us.

We realised we had to tack to get further south east to get the benefit of the south westerly winds on the south east side of the low.

At the first daylight we broke through into the fresh south westerly and could hoist our largest gennaker. Dragon was right there behind us but suddenly appeared another player out the mist, Ericsson 4, who had been smart to push into the south east to catch the favourable running conditions.

It did not take long for Ericsson 4 and Dragon to overtake us running in 22 knots of wind. Just after they passed, our 400 sqm nylon gennaker exploded and we lost the last battle to the loop in Rotterdam, so close to be first there after near 800 nm of exciting and very variable sailing....

After waving goodbye to the Dutch spectators who had the interest to watch us flying by at 8 AM, we set off north, handicapped by having our large gennaker badly broken. Dragon and E4 disappeared north in the hazy morning and soon also PUMA came from behind and passed us in the same manner as we had experienced before.

But it is not over yet and our great team on Telefónica Black will do our very best to find a way back to the top of the leader board...

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG EIGHT DAY 4 QFB: received 09.06.09 2211 GMT

Leaving the Rotterdam Gate Race, on leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Galway to Marstrand. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Gabriele Olivo

This race is seriously dangerous for your health...

This morning we entered the windward leeward in front of Amsterdam [SailRaceWin: This was actually Rotterdam!] just after seeing all the other guys flying away with the spinnaker towards Denmark while we were still upwind.

When we finally hoisted the chute we were feeling quite ‘lonely’ looking at all the spectators boats and thinking ‘yes we're last, this is the end of show, now you can go back home, thanks for coming...’, but things were about to change dramatically once again.

During the first position report after sailing the loop, we realised that Ericsson 3 was missing and that they probably got caught out of the pressure. So we weren't last anymore. A big relief and a shy smile appeared on some of the boys, especially when we started catching up with Delta Lloyd. Hour after hour we reduce the distance from eight miles down to zero, until we overtook them. ‘Who said Telefónica Blue was slow downwind???’ Today was an historical moment for us, after spending the whole race trying to optimise our ‘Yellow submarine’, finally we did it!!!

We finally overtook a competitor downwind in heavy air and we were the fastest boat on a position report!! Of course there is the other side to the coin, sailing the boat with double standby is really hard work, but it pays off when you see the results. And what a result!

After overtaking Delta Lloyd we found out that PUMA had got caught on the wrong side of the low for gybing too late and Ericsson 4 is just 10 miles ahead. Today we've been taken from hell to heaven directly, in a matter of a few hours... only thinking about what happened today makes my head ache...

Surely there is someone in a world of pain right now, thinking ‘this isn't a yacht race, this is a divine punishment’. But as never before, during this leg conditions change so quickly and are out of our control so we have to be calm and wait until we cross the finish line.

Another crazy 24 hours until the end.

Volvo Ocean Race

VOR: GREEN DRAGON LEG EIGHT DAY 4 QFB; received 09.06.09 1742 GMT

Exhausted: Ian Moore and Ian Walker on board Green Dragon. Image copyright Huang Jian/Green Dragon Racing.

by Ian Walker (skipper)

You can tell when people are really tired as they don't bother to try and get in a sleeping bag; they just collapse in their wet kit wherever they can. This has been life onboard the Green Dragon for the last two days.

Non-stop manoeuvring and double stand-by watches means a maximum of two hours sleep in eight if you are lucky. There has seldom been a period where we have settled on a tack long enough for people to get any sensible rest. Having to go to Rotterdam and sail a two mile loop was the last thing anybody needed to do right now, but it is done and now we are back on our way.

It has been a bizarre day as we spent ages beating upwind only for the wind to shift 180 degrees and leave us gybing back down to the mark we spent all day trying to get up to. Although Ericsson 4 took the lead we did well to prevent the whole fleet turning inside out. We were happy to pass Telefónica Black when they had spinnaker problems and reclaim second place. This is where we remain, but as we sit becalmed as the wind transitions back the other way, it is only a matter of time before we get caught from behind. Sailing can be cruel and although we have sailed a good leg so far, it counts for nothing until we get to Marstrand.

We have been given a demonstration of pure boatspeed by Ericsson 4 today. It was an honour that they felt the need to repeatedly cover us, but as they ease out a half mile or so further ahead every hour I doubt they will be covering us for long. Still it is always fun to be ahead of the race leaders even if it only lasted a day or two. Who knows we may find a way back past them yet. For now I will settle for holding off the others - two of whom I can just see appearing over the horizon behind.

Volvo Ocean Race