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17 October 2008, 04:54 pm
Trouble Ahead For Volvo Ocean Race Fleet?
Navigator Ian MOORE from Great Britain assumes his position below decks onboard Green Dragon
It looks set to be a testing 24 hours for the navigators onboard the eight VO70s

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Day seven of leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race and there could be trouble ahead for the eight-strong Volvo fleet as they race towards The Cape Verde Islands 73 miles ahead and to leeward of leg leader PUMA and then line up for the Doldrums.
"It's tricky out here - I have no idea how it can be so shifty so far out to sea," said Ian WALKER (GBR), skipper of Irish entry Green Dragon, currently in sixth place. His crew is focusing on lining up for the Doldrums and WALKER explains that there is a 'tropical wave' ahead, which means that some boats could have a fast transition through the notoriously windless zone, while for others it could spell trouble. "Right now, it looks like the further ahead you are, the better shape you will be in," says Walker whose team is pushing hard.

PUMA skipper Ken READ (USA), whose team has regained the lead they lost briefly to Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL/USA), agrees: "There are minefields everywhere and there is nothing 'traditional' about this leg so far at all. All the historical routing data? Throw it in the bin! 'You will never sail inside the Canary Islands'. Been there. 'You will never have to deal with the Cape Verde Islands'. About to be there."

Wouter VERBRAAK (NED), the Dutch navigator with Team Russia (fifth place) says the Doldrums are shaping up to be quite horrible. "At first look it just makes my heart stop," he explained this morning. There are still about two days before the fleet has to make its entry but the choice as to where to enter has probably got to be made tomorrow evening. VERBRAAK sums it up: "Try and cross in the east and have a good angle for Fernando de Noronha [the scoring gate], or take a safer route further west?"

Meanwhile, Ericsson 4 in second place has a casualty onboard. Trimmer Tony MUTTER (NZL) has an infected knee, and, acting on advice from onshore medics, the knee had to be drained. "We gave Tony an anaesthetic and preceded to suck some of the fluid off using a syringe, then we stuck the knife in - well carefully cut the infected area with a scalpel," describes onboard medic Phil JAMESON (NZL) who was assisted by Stuart BANNATYNE (NZL). The patient is now bandaged up and confined to his bunk.

As the end of the first week of racing approaches, but still with over 4,700nm to the finish, the familiar effects of being offshore are starting to show. Life has settled into a routine of eating, sleeping and sailing, with the usual grouches about the quality and quantity of the food as the menus begin to repeat themselves for week two.

"Many of us will miss out the meals we did not enjoy the first time round," says Ericsson 4's Dave ENDEAN (NZL). "This means the snacks will get hit harder as we go on, or we will start to get more and more hungry."

The heat is another issue and the crews are looking forward to the fresher conditions and cooler temperatures found on the southern side of the Equator. The tropical conditions they are sailing in now mean that the crew are drenched in sweat when working below, and then have to sit in sweaty boots and gear when on deck. "Hardly ideal", said ENDEAN.

Spirits rose on the Green Dragon, when Irishman Damian FOXALL was hit in the face by a flying fish during the night. "I'm not sure which was funnier, the direct hit or Damian trying to get it out of the cockpit," says WALKER, who added that they have seen very little wildlife. Just a few small pilot whales and lots of varieties of Dolphin.

Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) is still repairing their big spinnaker, but as the wind has picked up they have not been hampered by flying their smaller chute and have passed their team mates on Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP). According to BEKKING, the spinnaker is in a thousand pieces and repairing it has disrupted the watch system. "The last watch we drank plenty of coffee to help keep our eyes open," BEKKING said.

At 13:00 UTC today, PUMA had regained her lead from Ericsson 4, Telefónica Blue had the highest 24-hour run of 426nm and Green Dragon had averaged the highest boat speed of 20.8 in the hour preceding. PUMA and Ericsson 4 are on a southerly course, while the rest of the fleet continues heading to west. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE/IRL) is sailing a storming race, proving that generation 1 Volvo Open 70s are still on the pace. BEKKING sums it up: "How good is it to see how well Delta Lloyd is going. Not only have they been sailing very smart, but they are not slow either. That will open doors for the next race, and hopefully more teams will use older generation boats, and still be competitive," he said.

Leg One Day 7: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to leader)

PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ/USA) 4730 DTF
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL/BRA) +21nm
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) +35nm
Delta Lloyd IRL (Ger O'ROURKE/IRL) +58nm
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT) +82nm
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER/GBR) +97nm
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) +163nm
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) +227nm

Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard
(After In-Port race 1)

1. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING/Iker MARTINEZ), 4 points
2. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 3.5 points
3. Puma Il Mostro (Ken READ), 3 points
4. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 2.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 2 points
6. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE), 1 point
7. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 0.5 points*
8. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 0.5 points

*one point has been deducted from the Ericsson 3 score as per the jury decision number JN04 2 October.

Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09

Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org

Lizzie Ward
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