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Volvo Leg 7

May 17, 2009 3 Comments by


Ericsson 4 again took maximum points this morning when she crossed the finish of Volvo Ocean Race leg seven in Galway in first position.  She finished at 0054 GMT today after taking seven days, 10 hours, 33 minutes and 51 seconds to sail across the North Atlantic from Boston.

A huge and very excited Saturday night crowd was on the dockside, principally waiting to celebrate the arrival of Green Dragon, their hometown boat, but Ericsson 4 benefitted from a raucous welcome as they drew alongside.

After fighting his way ashore, Brazilian skipper Torben Grael said:

“It’s nice to get first place. It’s another big step towards our goal, so we’re pretty happy about it.”

The North Atlantic threw everything it could at the seven-strong fleet, which revelled in the fast downwind conditions.  Many of the crews have declared the sailing on this leg as the best they have ever experienced and there was plenty to contend with.  Thick fog, a myriad of lobster pots followed by a whale exclusion zone, a scoring gate – which Ericsson 4 rounded in third place – and an ice exclusion zone to negotiate all added to the mix before the high-speed drag race to the finish, which proved to be a nail-biting thriller.

Reflecting on Ericsson 4’s leg, Grael said, “The beginning was tough. There was a big decision once we realised we couldn’t get the first two positions at the gate, so we positioned ourselves for the rest of the leg.

“Then when we got this big front, we split from the fleet, which worked out well, but it was risky and it was a rough ride in. We had to push it to have a good position, so it was tough.

Ericsson 4 sailed the first half of this leg conservatively, only rising to the top of the pack on 19 May, day four.  The remainder of the leg was spent either in first or second place, with the exception of a blip on day six when the team dropped briefly to fourth place.

“It’s always a matter of risk against return,” said Grael today. “If you think it’s worth running the risk, you take it. That’s the game. We were conservative at times on this leg but took some big risks as well.”

The next boat is to expected to cross the finish within an hour.

Leg Seven Finishing Order Galway
1. Ericsson 4: 8 points

Overall Leaderboard (Provisional)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA)  92.0 points (FINISHED)
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) 72.5 points (RACING)
3. PUMA (Ken Read/USA)   69.0 points (RACING)
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE)  58.0 points (RACING)
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR)  46.0 points (RACING)
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) 33.0 points (RACING)
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP) 25.5 points (RACING)
8. Team Russia     10.5 points (DNS)

Scoring Gate Order
1. Telefónica Blue
3. Ericsson 4
4. Ericsson 3
5. Telefónica Black
6. Delta Lloyd
7. Green Dragon

more here

Green Dragon’s Damian Foxall celebrates coming third on leg 7 in Galway

Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race


received 22.05.09 1835 GMT

For all of you addicted to the three hour position reports, I write to you now because we are about to go Stealth and disappear for the next 12 hours or so.  Why?

Because after our rudder fiasco we have battled back to be at least in the hunt and the next key part of this race is critical –  the final gybe into Galway expecting a wind shift to the south.

When we all time our gybes will make or break the leg (probably shouldn’t use the word ‘break’ right now but it was appropriate).  And my guess is that you have seen the last of the fleet for a while.  Ericsson 3 is already Stealth and I would put a dollar on the entire fleet going stealth at about the same time for the first time this race.

So does this build up the suspense for all of you, or is like turning off the lights so you can’t actually see the seventh inning of a baseball game?

Does it give you a reprieve so you don’t have to rush to your phone or computer every three hours?  Does it allow you to sleep through the night and not get up to check in on your favourite boat for at least one evening?

Or does it really tick you off that you have followed closely this entire race to be literally put in the dark for maybe the most critical tactical call of the race?

I have mixed feelings on the StealthPlay.  A lot of it would depend on your answer to the above questions.  As a fan, I think I would want to see what was happening at this critical juncture.  As a competitor, I think the three hour reports are really tight together and for sure they give us way more anxiety aboard, but they also seem to keep the fleet together as there is little opportunity to make a break with three hour scheds.

Stealth mode really is a blast back to the past when there were no position reports. Folks I have spoken to from the first Whitbread Races tell stories of not knowing how you did until the boat got into the harbour and saw who was tied up to the dock.  Now that is the ultimate StealthPlay!  But honestly, I could take or leave StealthPlay.  In the end it is pretty overrated in my book.

So goodbye for now.  Hopefully when you see us again we will have closed the distance to the group that is to the northwest of us.  Although I believe the distance to the finish shows differently right now, I believe that most of the group to the northwest is actually ahead of us when we all gybe, and we still have plenty of catching up to do.  So let’s hope we get this next play right.  See you in 12 hours.  Sleep well knowing that you don’t have to get up to see our scheds.

Kenny Read – skipper

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Guo Chuan/Green Dragon/Volvo Ocean Race


received 20.05.09 0916 GMT

We have experienced tremendous changes in wind speed and wind direction in the last 24 hours.  This is because we are sailing in area where warm (Gulf Stream) water meets the Labrador Current.  Trick seems to be to find the warmest spell of water – the warmer the water, the better the air is mixing to the surface.

Today we saw Delta Lloyd tacking only 1.5 miles to weather of us, but half an hour later she gained about three miles more to windward, just having a tad more pressure than us.

We bit the bullet and tacked off, leaving PUMA with whom we have been so close for a long time – alone.  The guys ahead have gained, sailing into more pressure.

We had some close encounters with massive whales, which surfaced within a couple of metres of us and we sailed right through a school of pilot whales, luckily no contact.

We have been reading with great amusement how cold some crews on the other boats are. It is nice to sit here just with shirt in a temperature of around 20 degrees – you sleep well, never feeling cold. The heater is just magic. It means as well that when going on deck, you don’t have to have so many layers on, most of the guys run one thin layer of thermals, and one thicker on top, so still plenty of spare kit in the duffel bag.

Bouwe Bekking – skipper

Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race


received 20.05.09 0721 GMT

Depressing times

It is an extremely frustrating time onboard Ericsson 3. We can’t really let go of the thought that we were in the lead and then, suddenly, we hit a whale and after that everything has been going bad.

We lost three positions to the scoring gate and after that we have lost even more. Like every one of the front runners to the gate, we have lost a lot to the boats which were at the back of the fleet before the gate. The explanation is that they didn’t bother about racing for the gate, but were heading straight for goal.

Yesterday, after we made the first tack since the crash, we hoisted the port daggerboard and had a good thorough look and found that it was pretty badly damaged. For sure that had slowed us down a lot.

Luckily we brought our spare daggerboard, a decision that was made very close to the start, and it took us one hour to change. We are of course going better now, but we had already lost a lot and we still have some damage in the front of the bulb, which may not have a big effect, but it is for sure not positive for the performance.

It is still very depressing weather with thick fog and grey sky. We are in the waters where the famous Titanic went down on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It was a British passenger liner, the largest ship in the world when it was built and supposedly unsinkable, but it struck an iceberg around the area where we are in on April 1912 and sank with the loss of over 1500 lives.

As if the history and weather of this area weren’t depressing enough, we have had had a disastrous last 24 hours. We have been tacking I think four times and there has been a lot of furling and unfurling the masthead zero. At one stage we were down to seven knots of boatspeed.

This calm weather feels very strange since I was expecting this to be a very rough leg. So far it has mostly been very calm and the working environment for the media man has been a bit cold but, in total, very comfortable, almost dull. I guess that those words will bite back and that the wind will soon hit us with furious anger. Actually I think that would be good since we usually are fast in the big stuff.

Back to reality:
Last sched we lost to everyone in the fleet and our navigator Aksel Magdahl was not very happy about the situation. He is a realist and, unfortunately for now, he is usually right about things and it is depressing that he has said that it really doesn’t look good for us. Hopefully he was just tired and grumpy like only navigators can be.

Luckily we have others onboard that are extremely optimistic. We are never giving up so do not count us out. Like Magnus Olsson always keep saying: “Everything can happen in sailing and hockey”.

Gustav Morin – MCM

Gustav Morin/Ericsson 3/Volvo Ocean Race


received 19.05.09 2306 GMT

We are currently passing over the southern tip of the Grand Banks 250 miles off Newfoundland, Canada. This is where the race committee have put the first of our ice gate waypoints. Having seen four icebergs in the Southern Ocean we have no urge to see any more right now.

As if we need any reminder of the threat of ice, we were today over-flown by the ice patrol plane.  They must think we are all bonkers sailing all the way up here. It should not be forgotten that the Titanic famously struck an iceberg and sank 75 miles south of our current position. Like the Titanic, we set off from Cobh near Cork, Ireland, but unlike the Titanic, we have considerably more technological help. For starters we have iceberg reports from spotter planes and satellites. We have onboard radar which should spot larger bergs and thermometers to measure the water temperature. If things go really bad we have watertight doors which, unlike the Titanic, go all the way up to the deck and, of course, we are being watched over by Volvo Race HQ. Should be no problem getting a good night sleep then!

Ian Walker – skipper

Thomas Johanson and Aksel Magdahl study the weather charts onboard Ericsson 3


received 18.05.09 1532 GMT

I know I have said this before, but the competition out here is ridiculous. The speed differences are so close in certain conditions you would swear that this is one design racing.  I don’t know what numbers you folks get, but we just got a sched and when we calculate it to the corner where the ice gate meets the scoring gate it goes like this:

1st  Il Mostro
2nd Ericson 3, a whopping three tenths of a mile back
3rd Ericsson 4, we are killing them as they are almost five tenths of a mile astern.
4th Telefónica Blue, 1.2 miles back.  Don’t know why they even continue they are so far off the pace. Unreal.
5th place Telefónica Black is only 3.5 miles back as well.

So, if you aboard il Mostro you would be saying all is good right?

Not so fast.  Not only is the distance between the boats ridiculously close, it is impossible to cover anyone.  The fog is so thick that you can barely see the bow of the boat never mind the competition. The radar, which sits on the front of the mast doesn’t see behind the boat, only forward, as there is a big carbon pole blocking the view to the rear.  So, after each position report we have no idea where everyone is going for the next three hours. Makes for a tough game when a lead is so precarious.

It has also been interesting as each boat in the top group has had its time to shine.  At times all of us have had a condition that it liked versus the others and I think all have led at one stage during this sprint to the ice.

On board the mood is anxious and optimistic.  Last night was a very interesting night to sail.  A bit chilly though.  Went into my bag and pulled out just about every piece of clothing that I brought and ventured on deck for a sail change and a bit of driving.  When driving it felt like you were in a video game.  18 knots of wind at the top of the mast, the boat heeled over 25 degrees, and literally no wind on the water.  A perfectly smooth, glassy ocean.  And not one bit of visibility.  I think the phrase is ‘pea soup fog’.  Very wet and just above freezing in temperature, but surreal none the less.  You had to concentrate on the instruments with a real intensity, because if you started to wander there was nothing visually to help get back on track.  Very odd, but a really cool night to sail, literally and figuratively.  I will remember that one for a while.

Good news by the way, I can type again with my chopped off finger. I think I was asked about my finger more than any other question over the past three weeks.  I am happy to report that it has grown back and typing is my own special therapy to get the nerves to start working correctly.  I can tell you the finger still does not like the cold though!

Kenny Read – skipper


It has been three years to the day since Han Horrevoets was washed over the side of ABN AMRO TWO and lost his life during leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06, but memories of the popular Dutchman are still strong.

It is in recognition of Hans’ work in developing young sailing talent onboard ABN AMRO TWO, that the Volvo Ocean Race has launched the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy. The award, decided by the race committee based on nominations by each of the skippers currently racing, will be presented in St Petersburg at the finish of the race, to a rookie sailor who was younger than 30 when the event commenced.

In making their nominations, each skipper will choose sailors that have shown a significant drive to make an improvement to their own skills and to the skills of the team and have shown a significant contribution in strengthening the team onboard.  The skippers will also determine whom their first pick would be from across the current fleet if they had to choose any rookie sailor under the age of 30 for the next race.

The second string of the ABN AMRO project was unique and ambitious, opting as it did to enter a boat crewed predominantly by rookies into the top level of offshore sailing. Hans, who had sailed the event in the 1997-98 edition, was an integral part of the campaign, helping to oversee the extensive ‘talent contest’ that whittled down 1,800 online applications to a handful of the most skilled young sailors from around the world.

Ultimately, he ended up sailing on the boat as well, enjoying great success along the way until tragedy struck in the Atlantic Ocean. But his legacy has been enhanced by the continued success of the sailors he helped to elevate in the world of sailing: Nick Bice and Gerd Jan Poortman are both part of Team Delta Lloyd, while Simon Fisher, one of the senior figures outside the ABN AMRO selection process, is signed up to Telefónica Blue.

Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race and previously a skipper in the event, says the trophy is a way of preserving the spirit of youth that Hans promoted so strongly.

“I got to know Hans through many years of round the world racing,” he said. “I am very pleased that this trophy in his memory will keep alive his spirit and enthusiasm towards pushing a new generation of sailors to reach their full potential.”

Both Bice and Fisher hope the lessons learnt from Hans’ death will help prevent similar accidents in the future.

“If anything, it has taught us all to be a lot safer out at sea and to be a lot more wary of what Mother Nature can throw at us,” Bice said. “Just that alone has had a great effect. We are all still thinking of Hans and hopefully we all get across the Atlantic this time incident free.”

Fisher added: “Lots of time has passed, but it’s all pretty clear in my mind. I don’t think I’ll ever forget him really. I won’t ever forget what happened on that leg.

“The memory of him is always with me when I’m sailing. I think for the sport it is important that we remember him and learn from happened in the hope that it won’t happen again. Hans was always a funny guy to have on the boat, enthusiastic, and a great sailor as well. He loved every minute of being on the boat.

“The whole ABN experience was great for helping young sailors and Hans was a big part of that.”

more here


Photo credit: Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Volvo Ocean Race: Team Green dragon sustain dammage to their leeward, port daggerboard, after hitting a lobster pot, on leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Boston to Galway.

Ericsson 4 Leg Seven Day 2 QFB:

received 17.5.09 1457 GMT

It’s all come as a bit of a shock to the system. Back onboard and trying to slip back into the routines which will once again be second nature in a day or so. But there are a lot of moments of Déjà vu.

The temperature drop was sudden – just a couple of hours after the start and I was in two thermal layers and a mid layer – close to the max worn in the southern ocean! Warm hats and balaclava’s plus gloves are essential on deck.

The thick chilling fog that descended whilst we were Boston Harbour lifted just before sunrise, it was the first time that the weather had not played ball during the Boston stopover after the beautiful sunny  weekends – perfect for the thousands of spectators who showed up to  support us.

I will always remember the bow of the ship looming out of the fog as we rounded the top mark.  The Delta Lloyd boys suffered the most and I’m  sure the language on the bridge of the ship would have been pretty  blue when the whole Volvo fleet squeezed in front of the vessel – it  was almost like the Malacca Straits again (forgetting the fog and the vast temperature difference).

Daylight came early onboard the yacht and we can see six boats clearly – all lined up off the coast of Nova Scotia. The last time I was this close to Nova Scotia was on a Marblehead to Halifax race in the 90s,  it was a LOT warmer then but was very foggy and it had taken us a couple of days to get this far!.

The sky is grey and gives the feeling of cold weather – I’m sure that if the sky were blue but the temperature was the same, we would feel a lot warmer!

We are jib reaching along and keep sailing through vast areas of Lobster pots – many of which we managed to hook up on the keel, daggerboard and rudders – luckily they seemed to come off relatively easily – but not before that ‘jaws’ moment of the large buoys chasing  the boat before they are sucked round the foils to their freedom. I can’t imagine that the forward edges of our foils are in the same immaculate shape as they were less than 24hrs ago when we started.

We can see that the other boats are weaving their way through the lobster pot field. I mentioned to Tony Mutter that there must be a lot of lobster in the area.

“Or maybe not!” he replied.  I’d be amazed that the number of lobster is stable after the amount I saw on the menu in the New England area many of which ended up on my plate!).  There are several people who help by farming lobster and I know I would be happier if I knew I was eating from a sustainable lobster source.

We are expecting a little more wind in the next few hours and with those even colder temperatures onboard.  Hope it doesn’t get too much colder as there isn’t that much clothing left in my bag – and I’m the sort of person who feels warmer in the knowledge that I have at least  one more item to go – if I wear everything and feel cold then I know  that I won’t be getting any warmer!

Guy Salter MCM

Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race

Guo Chuan/Green Dragon Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Gabriele Olivo / Telefonica Blue / Volvo Ocean Race

500 more photos here



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.

more here

Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

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3 Responses to “Volvo Leg 7”

  1. Sailing & Yachting says:

    Sailing & Yachting…

    […] 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. … It this isn’t enough to keep the minds of the 77 sailors …

  2. Yachting News 21st May says:

    […] more Sailing Anarchy interviews here […]

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