Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Galway ready for Grand stand finish (in the middle of the night)

23rd May 2009

The fleet are approaching Galway at record speed after a night of stealth play and some reshuffling in the fleet and are vexpected to finish at 5am tomorrow morning. Ericsson 4 have maintained their lead and as predicted have extended a little overnight. The final gybe to Galway would be crucial and nobody was letting on as to when or how they were going to do it.  There was all to play for, and from 1300 GMT yesterday afternoon all of the fleet barring Telefonica Black went into stealth play one by one throughout the night.

It would be a tense night for the whole fleet, but in the early hours of this morning Green Dragon popped up back in the radar and it was a great result for the crew onboard who found themselves sitting in a podium position in third.  They had moved up from fifth and were now just a mile behind PUMA in second, Green Dragon had executed a perfect gybe into the new system.  Volvo’s Race expert Mark Chisnell explained the issue the fleet faced, “As the low moved away to the north-east, and a new one started to approach from the south-west, the breeze started to back (rotate anti-clockwise) from the west to the south-west, and drop The wind shift forced the boats to gybe from port in the westerly, to starboard in the south-westerly to maintain their course to Galway.”

With the fleet set to ride the low pressure system all the way into Galway it will be a nail biting finish as the battle for second unfolds within the final miles off Galway around the Arran Islands.  The drag race to the finish is on and a heroes welcome awaits the Dragon in Galway Bay.  The Dragon is holding onto second alongside PUMA just 39 miles behind Ericsson 4.

Update from onboard:

“Galway should prepare itself for a grandstand finish in the early hours of Sunday morning. The Dragon has had a good night and we have popped up out of stealth mode only one mile behind Puma in second position. The race now is all about speed - there are no tactical options. We are running extra people on deck and putting every last drop of energy into the last miles to the finish. I am sure no crew are willing their boat forward more than ours right now.  This may well be my last blog of this leg, I am planning to get some rest now and save my energy for the tense battle into Galway Bay. Nobody could have written this script any better. When we started this project one of our goals was to try and capture the imagination of the Irish people and attract sailors and non sailors alike to the Volvo Ocean Race. The boat and sailing team was a crucial ingredient to help the stopover itself to be successful. I knew from the start that the best way of getting masses of public to swarm to Galway was to have a boat they could connect with, preferably through its success. This race hasn’t been easy for us - but our whole race now comes down to the next 12 hours. We want to get on the podium on the leg into Galway more than anything. We have thrashed the hell out of the crew, boat and sails over the last 3 days to catch up lost miles. Now we lie tied for second with 250 miles to go. The last 12 hours has been especially hard as yesterday evening we destroyed our fractional reaching spinnaker when the tack line broke after so long on one tack. This is the sail we would have used all day today by choice. Instead we have clung on to our bigger right on the edge of control and often having to sail up to 30 degrees off course to avoid wiping out. It has taken two extra guys on deck to keep up with the constant trimming. Now the wind has shifted and we can use a reaching headsail so we are less on a knife edge. I am waiting for every position report like never before. One would expect the faster reaching boats to pull us in but maybe they have difficulties too? Can they catch us quickly enough. Maybe we will have more wind or better waves. All we can do is push ever harder and hope that will be enough. This is sport at its best.”

Ian Walker , Skipper Green Dragon Team

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