Saturday, November 15, 2008

Volvo Ocean Race Start Leg 2

Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race
After a short delay, the start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09 kicked off in style in Table Bay, Cape Town today. PUMA screamed off the line breaking free of the chasing pack as they approached the first mark. Green Dragon, found clear air off the line and held their speed against Ericsson 4 and Telefoncia Blue, following PUMA and Ericsson 4 around the first mark in third place.

It was PUMA and Green Dragon who chose port tack, as the remaining fleet tacked to starboard towards the second mark, a move that paid off for the Dragon and the cat as they sailed into a stronger breeze. But it wasn’t to last. Ericsson 4 came storming across the Dragon’s bow slipping ahead of them around the second mark, followed by Telefoncia Blue. Ian Walker and his crew were hot on their heels in fourth, but the 25 knot conditions did not last. Shortly after rounding the second mark the fleet began to line up like ducks in a row as they headed along the coast to Camps Bay.

PUMA, who had dominated the fleet from the start were caught in a hole, Table Bay had swallowed them up as the rest of the fleet crept up from behind. Ericsson 4 took over pole and the big cat was stalled on the water. It was clear that the boats needed to find the wind shift as they hunted out the south westerly breeze that was expected. The crews watched in dismay as they found themselves becalmed. For PUMA it would prove to be a frustrating afternoon. They were soon to find themselves at the back of the fleet overtaken by Delta Lloyd and struggling to hook into the breeze.

But it was the Dragon who made the first move in the chasing pack, edging out of the hole and away from the fleet. They made a strong break, sticking close to the shore taking second place, and chasing hard behind Ercisson 4.

Skipper, Ian Walker, commented before the start, “We have had a few problems over the last few days, I’m incredibly glad that we managed to get some time out on the water. Breaking a spreader so close to the start was hard, but both the shore crew and several members of the sailing team have worked around the clock to replace the broken section. We really can’t wait to get out there and start this leg. It is going to be a tough one for everybody. Conditions over the next few days look tricky as we sail through incredible lights airs and into heavy conditions. It’s certainly going to be an interesting one and I really hope that we can hold our position on the leaderboard”.

Current forecasts show shifty conditions over the first 24 hours. The fleet will face a moderate southerly 10 knot breeze as they head south, with the potential to get caught in a band of high pressure with winds as low as 5 knots. It should be a tricky road to India as the teams face a long tactical battle ahead.

Positions 1400 GMT

1. Ericsson 4
2. Telefoncia Blue
3. Green Dragon
4. Ericsson 3
6 Telefoncia Black
7. Delta Loyd
8. Team Russia

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