Volvo Ocean Race by Rick Tomlinson

Volvo Ocean Race by Rick Tomlinson

Volvo Ocean Race Sailing into Marstrand

It was a thrilling finish to leg eight of the Volvo Ocean Race from Galway to Marstrand, Sweden. The yacht Ericsson 4 pulled out all the stops, taking a third win in a row in the around the world yacht race. The sailboat Puma finished second, and after a heroic effort from the crew, Green Dragon managed to take third place.

Now the battle for overall second place in the Volvo Ocean Race 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, 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.

Volvo Ocean Race

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.

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 Ocean Race 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.

Rotterdam Gate Race – Volvo Ocean 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 – Volvo Ocean Race 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 – Volvo Ocean Race 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 – Volvo Ocean Race 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 Leg Eight Finishing Order Marstrand
1. Ericsson 4
3. Green Dragon
4. Telefónica Blue
5. Delta Lloyd
6. Telefónica Black
7. Ericsson 3

Volvo Ocean Race 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

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