This weekend saw Green Dragon take the lead from PUMA as the westerly route paid dividends. By Sunday morning, they were in the most favourable conditions sailing in significantly more wind than the rest of the chasing fleet.
As soon as the reports came out showing the gains the Dragon had made in the west the fleet followed suit with PUMA and Ericsson 3 gybing to their position. 30 minutes later Ericsson 4 followed them. By Sunday afternoon Ian Walker and his crew were on port gybe on a straight line to the gate at Fernando de Noronha.
Current forecast show a band of light air, which is about to engulf the fleet. Ian Walker commented 'It is anybody’s guess who will pop out of here first and the only thing we know for sure is it won’t be quick. This is a big parking lot that could last for days'.
Volvo’s shore based performance evaluator Mark Chisnell filled us in on the weather systems ahead. 'The Green Dragon’s route shows her sailing a carefree and clean passage south down the longitude 30-31W. They will still hit some ugly stuff - no one is going to get into the south-east trades until the 22nd - but the Dragon should skirt the worst of it. I’m still backing the three western boats to pick up the flowers and chocolates at the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha – and the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) has now gone back to the early afternoon of the 23rd'. Skipper Ian Walker updated us from onboard Green Dragon:
'After making a brave decision to head far out West we have enjoyed gain after gain on each position report over the last 36 hours. My little yellow book of ranges and bearings to the other boats has been a joy to read. Unfortunately now the boot is on the other foot and as we head into the doldrums the fleet is compressing. In fact the whole fleet is almost in a line abreast. We headed far West to try and get round the calm, which nearly worked, but now we have all been swallowed up. The only thing we really have to power us along are the towering cumulus clouds that suck air into them and then blow it all out when they rain. We have just had one such shower and the fresh water was blissful. It is anybody’s guess who will pop out of here first and the only thing we know for sure is it won’t be quick. This is a big parking lot that could last for days. As I type this we are moving at 1 knot at 90 degrees to the course we would like to. Ian Moore has taken to making sacrifices to the sea gods and even threw his daily chocolate bar clean over the side - these are desperate times! Personally I think I will take another approach and get some sleep, whilst hoping it is better when I wake up. If I stay on deck any longer I will drive myself and every member of the crew mad. They will probably end up throwing me over the side!' 1800 GMT Current positions/DTL
1. Green Dragon / 0
2. Telefonica Black / 25
3. PUMA / 33
4. Ericsson 3 / 40
5. Telfoncia Blue / 43
6. Ericsson 4 / 45
7. Team Russia / 51
8. Delta Loyd / 90
-------------------------------------- BOAT BLOGS TELEFÓNICA BLACK LEG ONE DAY 10 QFB: received 20.10.08 1212 GMT
My birthday started with a general call on board: as we are approaching the Doldrums, we have the radar on so that we can be aware of the big common squalls of this area. They come out of the blue, and everything has to be prepared in advance. So, with a massive signal in the radar in front of us, we all got prepared: trimmers preparing peelings, helmsman pointing the boat to where the watch in duty said, and harnesses on, obviously, if someone was not wearing them, and the media preparing his arms as in a pre-war notice: still cameras, handheld camcorder and the infrared stern cam!
Everything in standby to get the most of the situation! As we were approaching the huge signal, it started to split up in two as if letting us go by without disturbing us, as it came up to happen: we crossed exactly through a gate opened as in purpose, with massive storm clouds by each side! Thanks, Neptune. It seems as you are with the Blackies! Well, with all of us, but a little bit more with the TELEFÓNICA NEGRO guys!!
And the good news arrived with the incoming position report: we were in the fifth position, only one mile behind our blue mates and 40 behind the leaders! Great news! Well done, fellows!!
Mikel Pasabant - MCM
------------------------------------ DELTA LLOYD LEG ONE DAY 9: Received 19.10.08 1905 GMT
1255 sched has Delta Lloyd 5th with again fleet spread in a leader’s line up for Fernando some 224nm. Dragons to left looking more like a good position and Delta Lloyd to right with Puma, E3 and E4 in the middle.
We are banking on a lift into the mark with pressure coming from the east and we, being the most easterly boat, are the a little further from the mark and so it is turning out to be a percentage play that we committed to a few days ago and have to play out. I estimate we will need 19 + knots of wind speed, ahead of the fleet and a lift to get to Fernando first. Looking out of the hatch it’s consistence pressure down the track.
The weather system I spoke about yesterday has joined another bigger system, slowed down and is still to our left. We hope it will create the extra lift and pressure. Last night was a standard spinnaker all night and not the busy night we had expected.
Life aboard is good, crew all in good spirits. The hot weather against the hull’s carbon is causing internal boat temperatures above 30 degrees C which slows down work aboard, increases water consumption as we sweat for even the easiest task.
Tasks for Cape Town are to increase the size of our 25 litre water storage container to 50 Litres + with some bullet proof incasing that will take a hammering upwind. At present we are having to make water 3 to 4 times a day consuming valuable diesel we need for next two weeks to see us to Cape Town. We have implemented a power usage schedule around charging to spare energy, our green foot print will be something the race might decide to award us a prize for!
The boat and the crew are fine we just need more wind – Neptune may need a sacrifice!
Ger O’Rourke - skipper
----------------------------------------- Mark Covell - TEAM RUSSIA's ‘big man reporting from a small space in a huge sea.’
The winds are getting lighter the man smells are getting stronger and will to eat up the sea miles is certainly not fading away. In my blogs I have tried to bring you the feelings from onboard not just the A,B & Cs of daily life on this V70. Here are some ongoing themes from life above and below deck.
Food is obviously an ongoing topic. The preparation is simple, boil water, tip freeze-dried food into eski, add water and re-hydrate. Then serve up with a large ladle, doing your best impression of every prison film you have ever seen. I like to get a good splat in the food bowl before I lean over to the bemused crewman and say in hushed voice 'It’s tonight, we’re breaking out tonight, we’re getting out…. You coming?' It gets the same strange look every time.
The flavours range from bland to blander. The all time favorite is the eagerly anticipated Chicken & Mushroom Thai Curry. The big benefit of this dish is for once the mushrooms actually look like mushrooms. The food itself can’t provide everything that a growing Volvo Ocean sailor needs to keep fit and healthy, so let me introduce the second biggest topic outside the subject of winning a yacht race, supplements.
Supplements come in all shapes and disguises. The fish oil tablet repeats on you all day until it’s time to take another one. The rest of the pills and powered dinks just give you wind. Fluctuant flatulence emitting from the sleeping bears below can often drown the sound of creaking sheets, easing on the winches above deck. If only we cou