Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Dragon only 20 miles from Qingdao

31st January 2009

Green Dragon are just over 20 miles away from completing Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean race. It has been a real test for machine and men as they battled storm conditions, damage and the prospect of not making it to China. For Ian Walker and his crew the arrival into Qingdao will be a significant moment for all onboard, and a serious accomplishment after 14 challenging days at sea. Green Dragon is currently 24 miles away from the finish line off Qingdao, but the breeze is dropping which may mean a later finish than expected this evening.


Update from onboard prior to arrival in Qingdao

After everything we have been through on this leg it looks like we are going to make it to Qingdao. We now have only 35 miles to go and a gentle 7 knot wind that knowing our luck will probably die away to nothing soon!  It’s been a funny leg that has been as much about survival as racing. The conditions have been bad but no worse than one might have expected in this part of the world at this time of year. These boats are brutal upwind and it is a very fine line between sailing safely and structural failure.  I am delighted to have got through this and with a boat that I think is reasonably intact. We have a broken forestay that could have cost us our mast, and one broken bulkhead that we have been nursing but I am hoping there is no delamination in the hull. I have my team to thank for getting us here, not least Tom Braidwood and Neal McDonald and all their helpers for a fantastic repair job in the bow. Everybody has played a part and now we will hand over our boat to the rest of the team ashore. They have some long days and nights ahead of them to get everything checked, serviced and fixed for the In Port race next week and the start of Leg 5.

I can’t wait to get to the dock as I am sure a tremendous Chinese welcome awaits the Green Dragon - I only hope for everyone that it is not at 3 in the morning! Qingdao is a real milestone for this team as this is the region where our Chinese sponsors are based and China is of course where the boat was built. For Guo Chuan, our Chinese crew member who is the first Asian person to ever sail in the Volvo Race, this will be even more of a special moment. Since the partnership with the Chinese began in June, Guo has lived and trained with the team, only once returning to China to get more visas! Qingdao is his hometown and I cannot wait to let him steer the Green Dragon into the dock. Guo’s contribution has been great - I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to live for so long in such a tight space with people from a different culture entirely. Guo you are a top man and our battle to Qingdao was as much for you as anyone else. You deserve this moment.

Ian Walker, Skipper Green Dragon Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven't put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full-time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button