Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Dragon: a hungry 400 miles out

26th March 2009

Green Dragon is just 438 miles from Rio de Janeiro and the end of an epic leg, the longest ever in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race. Conditions are still holding with a sea breeze which they hope will bring them all the way to the finish. But the final few miles into Rio can be tricky and the potential for being becalmed just miles from the finish is a reality for the whole fleet.

Ericsson 3 was first to cross the finish line in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro this morning at 1037 GMT. But only after a very slow final few hours onboard as they drifted into Rio. For the young Nordic crew this is their first win in the race so far and a victory for their young navigator who took a northerly gamble in the Southern Ocean which paid dividends. Ericsson 4 and PUMA are still to finish, both struggling with the light conditions, as they slow to around 4 knots.

Green Dragon is still sailing on at a comfortable 12 knots and they have managed to sail 234 nm in the last 24hours, one of the fastest days onboard for the last week. There are still two areas of high pressure that they must negotiate over the next 24 – 36 hours, and they will be keeping an eye over their shoulder to Telefonica Blue who are playing catch up to their east. But with just a couple of days remaining the end is in sight for the Dragon.

Green Dragon’s skipper Ian Walker commented last night, “Three days of sailing along with no wind does test the patience, we need some miles in hand to be able to defend fourth from Telefónica Blue, as they may have better angle towards the finish once they are out of the high pressure system. Hopefully we can stay ahead of them, if there is any justice in this world then we will! Right now we have more wind than the models suggest, we are making good ground to the finish, the boat is moving and the miles are coming down. Talking about the food rationing onboard Green Dragon he said” there is now a black market in liquorice all sorts and most things to be honest! We packed for 40 days which wasn’t a bad estimate and we may finish in 42 or 43 days.”

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