Leg six of the Volvo Ocean Race kicked off this afternoon at 1500 local time (GMT -4) on Apr 11 in a light south westerly 5 - 10 knots sea breeze, the 4,900 mile leg should see the fleet arrive in Boston in 14 - 16 days. It was a good start for Green Dragon as they stuck close to PUMA at the committee boat end of the line, with Telefónica Black at the pin end. It was the young Spanish crew on Telefonica Black, who are back in the race after missing Leg 5 due to damage sustained in Leg 4, that had the best start off the line. Skipper Fernando Echávarri led the fleet around the first mark in Guanabara Bay with PUMA and Ericsson 4 hard in pursuit. Pressure from Torben Grael at the mark forced a mistake by the PUMA which allowed Ericsson 4 to slip into second as they headed downwind.
For Leg 5 winners Ericsson 3 it was a shaky start as they headed downwind towards the bottom mark, the crew were unable to drop their spinnaker and a crew member was forced to climb the mast in order to free the sail. This error saw the fleet sail past and out into the open sea, apart from Delta Lloyd who had a slow start and were left trailing in seventh. The fleet then headed out of Guanabara Bay and past the famous Copacabana beach before turning off and heading north out into the open sea along the Brazilian coast. Telefonica Black’s lead held with Ericsson 4 in second and PUMA chasing in third behind. The battle for fourth continued between Green Dragon and Telefonica Blue and Ericsson 3 had made up some ground after the sail error earlier in the start and were holding sixth place. The newly repaired Delta Lloyd seemed to struggle from the beginning and were left chasing the fleet as they headed out in seventh place.
There is one mid-leg scoring gate opportunity on this leg, set at Fernando de Noronha, before the fleet arrives in Boston on or around 27 April
Speaking before the start skipper Ian Walker commented, “This is a very exciting part of the race for us, and a part of the race we want to do well in. The stopover has been short, particularly for the shore crew. But every time we get to this stage I just want to get going again. The boat is in great shape, the short amount of time here has put a lot of pressure on the shore team. The In Port race was difficult we only sailed for 2 hours before the race, we hadn’t sailed in the Bay before and it didn’t go as we had hoped. With that exception we are in good shape and ready to go. On paper this leg looks quite straight forward but sailing and life has taught me that the things that look straight forward are often not the most straight forward. We’ll keep our guard up, we’re ocean sailing just because we’ve done 12,500 miles on the last leg and sailed for over 42 days, doesn’t mean that sailing for 14 - 16 days is any less of a challenge. There are plenty of hazards out there and plenty of things that can go wrong, it wasn’t that long ago that I used to think the Fastnet was a big adventure! So I’m not going to underestimate the next 4000 - 5000 miles that’s for sure!”
For more information about Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009, please visit the following sites:
Volvo Ocean Race official site (Chinese): www.volvooceanrace.cn
Volvo Ocean Race official site (English): www.volvooceanrace.org
Volvo Ocean Race Chinese sailor blog:
Green Dragon Team official site (English): www.greendragonracing.com/en