Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Green Dragon: 'Hitting a wall'

23rd March 2009

The crew onboard Green Dragon are looking at the potential for another week at sea.  Whilst previous weather models before the weekend suggested that the Dragon may hook into an area of low pressure and be into Rio by the middle of the week, the forecast did not live up to expectations as the crew are now stuck in an area of high pressure, almost at a stand still.  If there is any consolation for Green Dragon, the fleet had have also hit a wall into Rio and boat speeds have ranged from 0.5 – 6 knots over the last 12 hours.

Volvo’s race expert Mark Chisnell filled us in on the developing weather systems ahead, “If we look at the Predicted Route image for boat positions and weather in 24 hours time, there’s a channel of easterly breeze developing along the coast north of Ericsson 3’s position. It ought to hold up for the next 24-36 hours, then strengthen – and should eventually get everyone back to the Dragon out of jail. But there are still some big holes in the breeze out there, and it will only take a butterfly flapping its wings in the wrong place to really ruin their week!” Read more here  Alongside the frustration at the lack of wind, the issue is now focusing on the lack of supplies onboard.  Both food and fuel are in short supply and in order to reduce tension onboard the Dragon everyone has been handed their food supply for the next few days so they can be responsible for their own intake! This is a common theme amongst all of the boats as rationing and a strict discipline with the food starts coming into effect!

Update from onboard: “A bleak outlook, three days ago we had a pretty solid estimated time of arrival in Rio of the 25th March (two days time). We had a fast route according to the weather models. Next the wind heads too much to lay the Falklands and we lose precious hours having to tack through the islands. Following this a high pressure bubbles up right in our path and just behind that of the leaders. Negotiating this cost us a day. Still things were OK as we sailed upwind looking for a north westerly wind and a new low coming off the South American shore. This arrived last night as predicted but instead of bringing 15 knot winds and a route through the next high pressure it brought lightning and no wind. Now we are left with virtually no wind and none forecast for three days. We also have adverse current. We have 1000 miles to go and my most optimistic outlook right now is an ETA of six days. At times like this the race becomes secondary to survival. The fundamentals of our life aboard are power to make water and run the boats systems and food. We have been closely monitoring our power consumption and diesel reserves (the batteries are charged off the generator which runs on diesel) and we are confident this will not be an issue. To make sure we will consciously save power by closing down non-essential systems. As for food the picture is not so good. We started with 40 days and a week ago we split some food packs down to make another two days of food rations.

This would give us 42 or another three days from now. We may well need at least seven days and three into seven doesn’t go. When guys are tired and hungry there is nothing like food to create friction between them. As of today to prevent any arguments over who has eaten what we are splitting the food 11 ways and leaving each individual to manage their own food. We are already hungry and it will get worse - simple as that. That is life - nobody is going to die. On a brighter note we are currently moving at 6 knots pointing nearly at Rio which is the best VMC we have made for 12 hours and it is a beautiful sunny day. What more could you ask for?”

Skipper Ian Walker

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro ("River of January” in English), is the second largest city of Brazil and South America, behind São Paulo, and the third largest metropolitan area in South America, behind São Paulo and Buenos Aires. It is the state capital of Rio de Janeiro. The city was the capital of Brazil for nearly two centuries, from 1763 to 1822 during the Portuguese colonial era, and from 1822 to 1960 as an independent nation. It is also the former capital of the Portuguese Empire (1808 - 1821). Commonly known as just Rio, the city is also nicknamed A Cidade Maravilhosa, or “The Marvelous City”.

Leg Five Day 38: 1300 GMT Volvo Ocean Race Positions

(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)

Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE) DTF 590 nm

Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA) +72

PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA) +135

Green Dragon IRL/CHI (Ian Walker/GBR) +409

Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED) +584

Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP) DNS

Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) DNS

Team Russia RUS (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) DNS 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