All right folks, nothing to see here, move along. That's the message that's coming from the Green Dragon camp, if you care to read between the lines.
Missives from the Irish-Chinese entry are increasingly downbeat, with little to show for their efforts at this point except a fistful of highly-spun press releases. Every official emissio from Green Dragon HQ is gurglingly positive. Plenty of chances remain, potential yet to be realised, THIS IS OUR MOMENT kind of stuff. And in the interests of patriotism, we in the media have all been on board. I was on Dublin City FM last Friday, and the best thing I could think to say, however, was that the short legs after Galway present the best chances for the Dragon to sneak a few finishes in the medal places.
Despite the talent on board, the fact is that on the legs, during the in-port races and at the scoring gates, the Green Dragon has been lagging', and it's clearly starting to strain the nerves on board. The boat is not fast. Not fast upwind, and not fast downwind. And things keep breaking. First, the boom, then the bow. Now the sailors are breaking ranks and saying what they think.
Take, for example, Justin Slattery's latest diary in the Irish Times, where he baldly states: "It looks like it might be quite a drag race up as far as Fernando once this breeze fills in, and then boat speed will be king. That's not so good for us, as our boat just isn't as fast as most of the other yachts."
He rounds out the article by saying "We need our day in the sun" - code for 'where's all the silverware?'
And that's just cherry-picking, whereas Ian Walker's blog from yesterday, titled 'Conditions are fairly benign', is pretty much grey skies and misery throughout. Here are a few excerpts:
"Not quite sure what to write about today as nothing has really happened."
"There is little excitement and there are no real tactical options."
"As seems to often be the case our job now is to work hard to stay as close as we can."
"I can report is a lot of discussions about what everyone is going to do when the race is over."
These are not the sentiments of a confident team leader, or the leader of a confident team. The fleet is in the process of rounding Fernando de Noronha for the second time, and Walker says that this closes the circle for many of the crew, not least, one assumes, because when they were on the out-lap, they rounded Fernando in first place and spirits were high. That, in reality, marked the high point of the trip so far. As they plodded past in last place yesterday, reality must have been hitting home.
The Boston-Galway leg will be the Dragon's real homecoming, and regardless of what place they finish that transat in, they'll be welcomed with open arms and uncorked bottles.
It'd be nice, however to seem them on the podium for once. And maybe even smiling. Chin up lads, not long left.