Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race Average Wind Speed over 40Kn, gusts of up to 50Kn apparent, True Wind Speed 30-32Kn. The only protection is the helmet.
Update from team Greendragon:
It was just after midnight GMT (4.3.09) when Ericsson 4 passed through the scoring gate at 36 degrees south and picked up four more points. Their sistership Ericsson 3 passed second 32 minutes later, followed 10 minutes later by PUMA. Then Telefónica Blue passed through the imaginary line with Green Dragon crossing it an hour afterwards.

No sooner had the fleet clocked up their points from the scoring gate, the tactics changed. It was Ericsson 3 who took the boldest move heading east. Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker explains:

“Anybody watching the fleet on the internet would be used to seeing all the coloured dots (boats) moving along a pretty similar path. Every now and then a boat may take a slight risk and go away from the others but normally the only boats that separate are those that lag behind and may have different weather or those that feel they need to gamble to get back in the race. All of a sudden after the scoring gate at 36 south on leg 5 the fleet has scattered so what is going on?

What we are dealing with is very changeable weather as a new low pressure forms and breaks up the long standing high pressure that you historically route around to the South. This coupled with the ice gate being very far north makes it very unclear what should be the fastest route to take. For three days we have been running or reaching south in the traditional way whilst talking about going east and ‘cutting the corner’ to the Ice Gate which is ESE from us. For the last 36 hours the computer has given this easterly route the edge over that to the south - but only just and not without considerable risk of getting caught up in the light winds of the high pressure.

Much as we would love to try something different we didn’t want to go against all the historical routes to the south and nor did we really want to beat upwind in 30 knots for two days. Well 3 hours ago that all changed when the latest weather gave even more credibility to the ‘easterly route’ and the southerly route suddenly looked the more risky.

I suspect there have been a lot of skippers and navigators scratching their heads. Wouter and I have been agonising over this for days and we needed no more persuasion to turn left and head directly upwind for the ice gate. E3 had the guts to make this call earliest and may have stolen a march on the fleet - well done them if it works out. I have to say the crew have taken the change of plan well considering they no longer have a week of downwind sailing to look forward to- at least it should stay warmer in the north.

So there will be no Southern Ocean for a while and there will be lots more upwind sailing which we don’t like but there should be some big opportunities ahead. Each 6 hourly weather forecast will be awaited with more anxiety than normal.”

The overall leaderboard remains the same with Green Dragon 1.5 points ahead of Ericsson 3.

Leg Five Day 19: 1600 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) DTF 6,899 nm
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +24
Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) +50
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +62
Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +63

Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS
Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS

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