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Leg seven start - Dragon and Delta head for home

17th May 2009

After a short postponement the last open ocean leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 got underway today, starting right off the race village at Fan Pier, Downtown Boston.  There was some confusion around the time of the postponement which led to four boats racing half the first beat of the inshore course before turning back to restart 20 minutes later.

After the gun fired, the seven-strong fleet split immediately with PUMA (Ken Read/USA ) looking really strong on port tack, followed by Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP), Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) and Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA), while Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE), Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) and Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) opted for a starboard tack start.

Fog descended on the course as Telefónica Blue screamed up through the fleet to lead round the first mark, followed by Telefónica Black, Green Dragon, PUMA, Ericson 3 and Ericsson 4.  As the fleet approached the mark, a large freighter hove into view.  The leaders had a clear rounding, but Delta Lloyd was forced to alter course by the ship and rounded in last place.

While the two Telefónica boats showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the fleet, PUMA ate into Green Dragon’s margin and Ericsson 4 put pressure on PUMA.

At the second turning mark the two Telefónica boats, Blue and Black, led the fleet.   PUMA stole third place from Green Dragon as they nipped inside at the mark, followed by Ericsson 4.  Ericsson 3 sailed ‘through the eye of the needle’ between PUMA and Green Dragon as the fleet dropped their spinnakers and flew headsails for the final leg of the course.

As the fleet sailed back towards the gate at the start line off Fan Pier, the freighter reappeared and the coastguards ushered the fleet away from it, the drama unfolding right in front of the huge crowd of spectators watching the racing from the shoreline.  

The final order as the fleet left Boston and disappeared into the mist heading for Galway in Ireland, was Telefónica Blue, Telefónica Black, PUMA and overall race leader Ericsson 4.

The first boat is scheduled to arrive in Galway one week from today, but first the fleet has to cope with ice further south than normal, a scoring gate off the island of Newfoundland, a whale exclusion zone just off Boston, and an ice exclusion zone in the shape of a pouch hanging to the east and south of Newfoundland.   

It this isn’t enough to keep the minds of the 77 sailors occupied, in 2005-06 on this Atlantic leg Bouwe Bekking and his crew had to abandon their yacht movistar and were rescued by the crew of ABN AMRO TWO who, days before, had had to cope with the loss of crewman Hans Horrevoets who drowned after being washed over the side.  

The 2,550nm leg seven to Galway promises to give the seven competing crews plenty to think about.

Green Dragon Skipper ian Walker adds: For Green Dragon Leg 7 has great significance as they race across the Atlantic to their home port of Galway in Ireland.  This is also a unique leg for the crew as they will be in active communication with the online Volvo Ocean Race Game community, every 12 hours Ian Moore and Ian Walker will send the online community a question regarding the current situation on the boat.  The community will vote and the crew will decide what to do. "Update from onboard: It was with some sadness that we left Fan Pier in Boston. What a fantastic city and I am already looking forward to returning there soon. Unfortunately that is the nature of the Volvo Ocean Race. No sooner have you made new friends than you must say your farewells. It has been an exciting week for our team as we have signed a new partnership with BWIN and United Games for us to communicate directly with those who play the Volvo Game online. I have just sent my second question to be polled by the gaming community - the first one received over 10,000 votes which is incredible. It will be fascinating to see how the gaming community’s choices compare to the decisions Ian Moore and I make onboard. Let’s hope we don’t get it wrong! We made a good start again in Boston and enjoyed the two lap course in front of the city. I only hope the fog wasn’t too bad for everyone ashore to enjoy the spectacle. It was quite bizarre losing sight of everything as visibility dropped to less than 100 metres. I suspect this will be a recurring theme of the next week as moist air from the South cools over the very cold water we will be sailing through and forms dense fog. I think fog is one of the worst hazards at sea and for Ian or I it will mean 24 hour radar watch. Radar doesn’t help much with lobster pots though so we will need a bit of Irish luck to help out there. Neal had to avoid 15 lobster pots in the first 20 minutes of his shift steering earlier today which doesn’t bode well for tonight. Talking of Irish Luck how can I not mention our terrific send off. The Mayor of Galway came over to send us on our way and we were treated to fantastic Irish singing and dancing. The Green Dragon is on its way home and we cannot wait to sail once again into the beautiful waters of Galway Bay. Skipper Ian Walker

Overall Leaderboard

1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA)  81 points

2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 68.5 points

3. PUMA (Ken Read/USA) 65.5 points

4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE) 55.5 points

5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR)  45.0 points

6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) 31.0 points

7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermúdez ESP) 24.0 points

8. Team Russia 10.5 points (DNS)

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