Guo Chuan (Photo by Jean-Sebastien-Evrard/AFP/Getty Images
China was in shock on Thursday after a search was called off for a hugely popular sailor who went missing as he attempted to break the world record for a solo trans-Pacific voyage.
Guo Chuan’s trimaran was spotted about 600 miles (1,000km) off the Hawaiian island of Oahu after he was reported missing on Tuesday.
But after finding only his lifejacket onboard, the US Coast Guard called off their search late on Wednesday.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Thursday that “millions of his compatriots are praying for his safe return”, and officially Mr Guo remains “missing”.
But the man who led the search for the 51-year-old appeared to have given up hope.
“Our deepest condolences go out not only to his family and friends but also to his racing team and the sailing community,” Captain Robert Hendrickson said.
Mr Guo set sail from under San Francisco’s Golden Great Bridge on October 18 on his 97-foot sailboat, which is called ‘Qingdao China’, after his home city on the country’s east coast.
He was hoping to complete the 7,000 nautical mile-journey to Shanghai in 20 days.
Mr Guo was an experienced sailor, becoming the first of his countrymen to take part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2006, and also the first Chinese to traverse the Atlantic Ocean by himself.
He became the first Chinese sailor to solo nonstop circumnavigate the globe in 2013, when he also broke the record for doing it in a 40-foot yacht.
Mr Guo was greatly admired in China for his love of his country and his family.
He dedicated his record-breaking achievement to his late father, and in one of his most recent reports from his voyage he spoke of how he listened to recordings of his young son laughing. He called it “the most beautiful song in the world”.
Zhai Feng, a close friend of Mr Guo and a fellow sailor, said: “I have been in shock since I heard this news.
“We know that falling into the water is certain death. If you cannot climb onto the boat within half-an-hour, you will surely be dead.
“My wife cried floods of tears when we learnt the news, and we are both praying for him.”
What happened to Guo remained unclear.
Guo’s team said they had observed his speed slowed on Tuesday and attempted to contact him, but he did not answer either satellite calls or internet communication.
The US searchers had found a broken sail in the water, they added.
The US Coast Guard said it was called when Guo’s team had not received notification from him for 24 hours.
The sailor had previously been “in constant contact” with his shore team and family and was “not likely to miss scheduled calls”, it added.
Chinese fans expressed fears for the mariner, with one writing that it was “likely he was adjusting or repairing the sail when he was struck or an accident occurred and he fell”.
Others urged rescuers to continue the search.
“Absolutely do not stop the search and rescue! It’s only 24 hours, the water is warm enough, Guo Chuan’s physical abilities are fine, if money’s an issue the shore team must immediately open a donation account… You can’t give up!”
But a tone of mourning and tribute also appeared, with one writing that sailors, like mountain climbers, embraced challenge to access a vast perspective, with “captains’ hearts always facing the sea”.
Murmansk Crew at Departure for Arctic Ocean Northwest Passage Record.
An incredible sailing record attempt two years in the making, is officially underway.
Chinese skipper Guo Chuan, leading an international crew of four top sailors and one media crew, set sail to attempt the first non-stop sailing world record along the Arctic Ocean’s Northeast Passage over the weekend.
The super trimaran “Qingdao China”, named after the port city in China, crossed the start line late on Thursday afternoon in Murmansk, Russia and has already traveled over 1000 nautical miles in the first few days at sea.
A departure ceremony was held in front of the pontoon shared by the famous Lenin Icebreaker and Qingdao China. Officials from Murmansk including Grigory Stratiy, Vice Governor of the Murmansk region, representatives from Qingdao and all crew attended the ceremony.
The World Sailing Speed Record Council officially declared the start of Qingdao China’s Arctic Ocean Northeast Passage world record challenge as 16:41 local time (13:41 UTC) Thursday. The crew plans to sail the entire Northeast Passage non-stop from Murmansk to the Bering Strait between Alaska (U.S.A) and Russia, the quickest route from Europe to the Pacific, while expecting to set the first non-stop sailing world record for the passage in the process. The voyage is about 3300 nautical miles and expected to be completed within two weeks.
Along with skipper Guo Chuan, Qingdao China’s crew includes Frenchmen Jochen Krauth (Baie de Quiberon) and Quentin Monegier (La Trinité-sur-Mer), Germans Boris Herrmann (Kiel) and media crew Tim Bastian Frank (Hamburg), and Sergei Nizovtsev from Russia.
Time to Beat: 137 Days 20 Hours Set by Chinese Sailor Guo Chuan in 2013
Newport, Rhode Island – Long time U.S. short-handed sailor, Joe Harris, announced his plans today to attempt to break the non-stop solo Around the World Record for 40-foot monohulls. Harris will make the attempt in his Class 40, GryphonSolo2. The attempt will be made in accordance with the rules of the World Sailing Speed Record Council, who will time the start and finish in Newport, RI. Additionally, a “WSSRC Black Box” will be installed on the boat, the data from which will be used to ratify any claim by GryphonSolo2, that the existing record of 137 days, 20 hours, 01 minute, 57 seconds, set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2013, has been broken.
Joe intends to leave Newport on a favorable weather window at the beginning of November. To qualify for an Around the World record, Joe will sail from Castle Hill Light in Newport, returning to Newport, leaving Antarctica to starboard. The attempt is an approximate distance of 26,700 nautical miles. To beat the current record, Joe will need to average 195 miles per day, or roughly 8.2 knots/hour.
Joe Harris stated, “I have been hoping, planning and dreaming of racing around the world since I was about 20 and now I am 55. I have come dangerously close to doing this twice; first with my Open 50 GryphonSolo in 2008 in the Velux 5 Oceans Race, before it was postponed. I then bought my Class 40 GryphonSolo2 in 2011 with the express purpose of racing solo around the world, but alas, there is no longer a race, as the Global Ocean Race will not run again. So, being ‘all dressed up with nowhere to go’, I have decided to ‘just do it’ and in turn attempt to break the speed record for a 40-foot monohull.
There is no other sporting event in the world that runs for 137 days, 24 hours day, in which you are the only athlete on the playing field racing against the clock. So this will no doubt be the greatest challenge I have ever faced and I would be lying if I said that the prospect of being alone on the great oceans of the world for four months is not an intimidating thought. It is. But in the end, this will provide me the greatest test that I can imagine. So I look forward to engaging with anyone who would like to follow the record attempt, from the preparation, to the start, to the communication from sea, to my return to Newport in, hopefully, anything less than 137 days.”
Throughout the next five months, Joe will be actively training for his around the world record attempt. In addition to multi-day training sails, Joe will also participate in Block Island Race Week (double-handed Navigators Division), Marblehead-Halifax (double-handed) and the Ida Lewis Distance Race.
In preparation of the attempt, GryphonSolo2 has undergone a major refit at Maine Yacht Center including:
· New auto pilots installed.
· New solar panels and hydrogenerator installed for offshore energy production
· Keel and rudders removed, inspected and reinstalled.
· New set of sails built specifically for the record attempt.
· Mast completely stripped and re-painted.
· New Iridium satellite communication system.
· New computer and navigation system.
Gryphon Solo 2 by George Bekris 2014
About Joe Harris
Joe grew up sailing on Long Island Sound, being mentored by his father, Woody Harris and his grandfather Hans Rozendaal, both experienced offshore racing sailors. With 4 trans-Atlantic crossings, 9 Newport-Bermuda races, 5 Marblehead to Halifax races, 5 Bermuda 1-2 races, 3 Atlantic Cups and numerous international miles sailed, Joe has logged over 60,000 offshore ocean miles, while owning 5 boats over a span of 30 years.
After graduating from Brown University in 1981, Joe spent the next seven years as a boat builder in New England during the winters and commercial fisherman in the summers in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Joe sailed offshore frequently in his twenties, racing to Bermuda and delivering boats to and from Europe and the Caribbean, before buying a C&C 40 he named Shiva. Joe migrated to double-handed sailing aboard Shiva, and ultimately sold Shiva to purchase the Aerodyne 38 Gryphon, which he campaigned aggressively.
In 2004 Joe purchased an all-carbon Finot-Conq designed Open 50 that he named GryphonSolo, which he campaigned in the solo Transat and the Transat Jacques Vabre. In 2011, Joe purchased an Akilaria RC 2 Class 40 named GryphonSolo2 with the intent of racing solo around the world.
Joe is married to his wife Kimberly and they have three children (Griffin- 17, Emmett- 11 and Sophie Grace-8) and live in South Hamilton, MA. He is involved in real estate investment, development and project management when not sailing.
Career Highlights: 1st – 2014 Atlantic Cup
4th – 2013 Atlantic Cup
3rd – 2012 Atlantic Cup
1st – 2007 Bermuda 1-2 – Overall and set the course record
1st – 2006 Newport-Bermuda – Open Division
1st – 2005 Transat Jaques Vabre (France-Brazil) – Double-handed
2nd – 2004 Transat (Plymouth, UK- Boston, MA) – Single-handed
About GryphonSolo2 GryphonSolo2 is an Akilaria RC2 Class 40. The Akilaria RC2 is the second generation of Class 40s designed by Marc Lombard and built by MC-Tec. She was launched in 2011 in LaTrinite, France.
– Chinese entry confirmed for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 sponsored by Chinese motor corporation, Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle (DFCV)
– OC Sport, leading global sports marketing and events company specialising in professional sailing, to manage new campaign
– Team Dongfeng will include a significant number of Chinese in the final race crew, as well as its support team www.teamdongfeng.com.cn
– Implementation of Chinese crew selection process and training Academy to build a long-standing offshore sailing platform in China
– Chinese entry to be supported by strong activation programme
– Key opportunities exist for additional main partners to accompany title partner Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle in this exciting new venture
Wuhan, China – October 30, 2013 – A team from China backed by Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle and run by leading sailing experts OC Sport will race in the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race in 2014-15.
Team Dongfeng will have the interests of Chinese sailing at its core with a significant number of Chinese in the final race crew, as well as its support team. Team Director Bruno Dubois announced at the launch of the new campaign in the Hubei province city of Wuhan on Wednesday (October 30).
Team Dongfeng, representing China, is the third campaign so far to announce its participation in the 12th edition of the world’s leading crewed offshore race that starts on October 4, 2014 with the Alicante in-port race before the departure from Spain to Cape Town for the first leg a week later. Seven Volvo Ocean 65 boats are currently being constructed in readiness for the next race.
Huang Gang, General Manager of Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle Company, said: “Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle has become an important partner for the Volvo Ocean Race, which is an internationally renowned sailing event. This is also a key step in DFCV’s global marketing strategy.”
OC Sport who will run all aspects of the campaign, is one of the most respected companies in the sport of sailing and responsible for the successful Extreme Sailing Series as well as numerous race campaigns over the past 15 years including those of record-breaking British female sailor, Dame Ellen MacArthur.
It is however the first time that OC Sport and its Executive Chairman, Mark Turner, has been involved in running a Volvo Ocean Race campaign and so fulfils a long-standing ambition for him, and for Team Director Bruno Dubois, who both competed in the 1989-90 race. “We are aiming for a successful race entry with a Chinese team, not just a successful entry – this is an absolute, at the heart of this very exciting and challenging project,” stated Turner.
Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle will be the title partner of the campaign, but will be supported by a number of other commercial partners which OC Sport is now seeking to allow the campaign to realise its full potential. These partners will have the opportunity to share a journey and story that is expected to receive significant global exposure, in particular in China itself, through Team Dongfeng’s participation.
Team Dongfeng follow Team Sanya (2011-12) and Green Dragon (2008-09) as the third Chinese entry in the race’s 40-year history, the latter a joint-entry with Ireland.
Two Chinese sailors have previously participated in the Volvo Ocean Race – media crew member Guo Chuan in 2008-09 on Green Dragon and “Tiger” Teng Jianghe in 2011-12 on Team Sanya, predating China’s sailing success in the London 2012 Olympics with Xu Lijia winning gold in the women’s Laser Radial.
But this project, and the planned establishment of an Academy, has the potential to provide a major boost to the development of professional, and indeed all types, of sailing in China.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said on Wednesday that he expected Team Dongfeng to be a real contender. “I know there is a Chinese proverb saying: ‘Everything is ready and all that we need is an east wind’. Now we have the support from DFCV and Dongfeng means ‘east wind’ in Mandarin.
“Team Dongfeng will be sailing in our new One-Design Volvo Ocean 65 like the rest of the fleet which means they will have exactly the same boat and competitive opportunities as anyone in the race, and they will be one of the first teams on the water,” he told reporters.
“The team will include a significant number of Chinese sailors and the search begins now to find the best in the country. They are sure to be the subject of huge media interest in China as Guo and Tiger were before them.”
Team Director Bruno Dubois highlighted the initial focus of the campaign, “Our priority is the recruitment and training of the Chinese sailors. This is very clearly the biggest challenge we have – to condense many years of experience of the average Volvo Ocean Race crew into just 10 months.
“But equally this process is at the heart of the project, we want to leave a real legacy that will both motivate the Chinese to want to embrace the sport of sailing, and be able to develop the talent so that, ultimately, a future campaign could be 100% Chinese.”
It had already been revealed earlier this year that the next race would again feature a stopover in China in the port of Sanya. The city in the Hainan Island province successfully hosted the event in 2011-2012, following Qingdao who became the first Chinese hosts in the previous edition of 2008-09.
First Place Ericsson 4 , Second Place PUMA Ocean Racing , And Third Place Telefonica Blue On The Podium (Photo by Rick Tomlinson /Volvo Ocean Race)
On Sunday night in St. Petersburg, the final prizegiving was an opportunity to remember and celebrate all that has happened on this magnificent adventure.
It was an emotional evening, with all of the teams, their families and friends finally able to truly relax after living in the pressure-cooker of the past nine months. It was also time to say goodbye, with most of the teams disbanding as early as Monday, airplane tickets taking them to all corners of the globe already in hand, booked months in advance.
The most poignant moment came with the inaugaral awarding of the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy, which was created in memory of Hans, who was lost at sea during the last edition of the race. The Dutchman was washed over the side of ABN AMRO TWO on the transatlantic leg. He had played a key role in ABN AMRO’s unique and ambitious project to help young talent break into the top level of offshore sailing.
His wife, Petra, was on hand to present the award and her emotional speech saw even the most hardened of sailors wiping tears from their eyes.
The award was created to recognise a rookie sailor who was younger than 30 when the event commenced. Each skipper was asked to nominate a who has shown a significant drive to make an improvement to their own skills and to the skills of the team and who has shown a significant contribution in strengthening the team onboard. The Race Committee made a selection from those nominated.
Images by Rick Tomlinson and Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race
(click on image to enlarge)
The winner of the inaugural Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy is Michi Mueller from PUMA Ocean Racing, whom skipper Ken Read said had grown from a raw, untested rookie, into a linch-pin of the team.
It was a good night for PUMA as the Inmarsat Media Prize went to Rick Deppe, who was recognised for his outstanding work across the entire race. Deppe won the prize for leg 10 (his fourth win), as well as the overall prize (which included a cheque for 10,000 euros), and he was quick to pay tribute to his colleagues, asking all of the media crew members to join him on stage.
Presenting the prize, Perry Melton, COO, Inmarsat said: “The Volvo Ocean Race selected Fleet Broadband before its launch. They have described its global performance as flawless. We are delighted that the innovation of media crew members was paired with our newest service to deliver media coverage from the harshest of maritime conditions.”
The advent of the media crew members has allowed the race to secure HD footage that has never been recorded in past races, when regular crew were asked to to double duty as media men as well. In this race, the media crew members have not been allowed to participate in the sailing of the boat. As a result, they are more like ’embedded reporters’, bringing the true story of their teams to life.
Deppe wasn’t the only media crew recognised on the night. Green Dragon’s Guo Chaun was presented with a new market media award in recognition of the media interest generated across China.
The Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award was given to the PUMA Ocean Racing shore crew (Neil Cox, Sean Healey, Will Oxley and Kimo Worthington) for rending assistance to Telefonica Blue, after they ran aground at the start of Leg 9 in Marstrand.
And finally, to the sailing teams themselves. All eight teams were recognised for their achievements while Ericsson 4, the winner of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, was presented with the ‘Fighting Finish’ trophy by Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, patron of the Volvo Ocean Race; a just reward for a team that has dominated the competition, securing the overall title in Stockholm, with one in-port race, and one offshore leg to spare.
In closing the ceremonies, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad paid tribute to his team in addition to all of the sailing teams and was already looking forward to the start of the next race, in 2011 in Alicante, Spain.
Following the formalities, the celebrations started in full force and continued long into the night and indeed well into the morning. With no more racing scheduled, there was no reason to stop the party. Until next time, this is, the end of the road.
Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 Prizes
Best 24-hour run – Ericsson 4, 596.6 nautical miles
Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy – Michi Mueller, PUMA Ocean Racing
Inmarsat Media Prize – Rick Deppe, PUMA Ocean Racing
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award – PUMA Ocean Racing shore crew
Ericsson 4 Finishing In St Petersburg (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)
It was an historic moment tonight in St Petersburg, Russia, when as the
White Night turned to dawn the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, led by Telefónica
Black in a thrilling climax, crossed the tenth and final finish line of
this nine-month, 37,000 nm race around the world.
Spanish skipper, Fernando Echávarri said, ³It¹s a prize for all the crew and
all the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but
couldn¹t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the
last 100 miles. We are really happy.
“It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and
the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot.
Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA,
Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 3 for the last 250 miles. It has been really
close. It has been like a match race. I don¹t know how many tacks we have
done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of
everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job.”
Victory for Telefónica Black was hard-fought and a match race developed with
PUMA, who had led the fleet for the majority of this 400-mile sprint from
Stockholm. At just after midnight GMT and while on the additional triangle
added to lengthen the course, Telefónica Black gained a small advantage,
which translated into a two and a half boat length win, denying PUMA a
second leg win in a row. However, with a total of 105.5 points, PUMA takes
second place overall.
PUMA skipper Kenny Read said: “Congratulations to all those guys, they have
worked very hard for their first leg win. We will take our second and our
second overall. You know what? We just sailed around the world. I guess I
said a thousand times that we know no other way but to make it hard for
ourselves. It¹s a shame, because we usually win these close battles and
today we didn¹t.
“The big picture is we finished this race, everyone is safe and the boat has
been spectacular. We flew the flag well for Volvo and I think we flew the
flag well for PUMA. We have everything to be proud of. Relief is the right
word. Right now, it is relief and, as always, we are a pretty tired group
onboard. Let the celebrations begin because all the group deserves it.”
Images by Dave Kneale and Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race
(click on image to enlarge )
Ericsson 4 Finishing In St Petersburg (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)
Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) filled the third spot both on leg 10 and
overall, to close the team¹s account on 98 points.
Bekking said on finishing: “We’re tired and hungry! It has been full on.
Lots of tacking. It was a beautiful leg in that it was sunny. But we have
been a bit unlucky. That¹s how it goes. But well done to the Telefónica
Black boys, they deserved to win. They had a superb leg. Good for them. We
were all very close. It is a very nice feeling to have finished and got all
the boys home safely. We had a podium finish which is nice as well.”
Fourth place finishers tonight and fourth overall with 78.5 points was
Ericsson 3 and Swedish skipper, Magnus Olsson was exhausted. “I feel so
tired I cannot say anything! Everybody is happy because they have sailed
around the world, but they are also very tired. After a day or two we can
say more intelligent things. You always want to do well in every leg, but
this was special because it was the short one and the last one. We were up
there so we are happy, but we couldn¹t keep up until the finish. They beat
us fair and square.”
Runaway overall leaders, with a final tally of 114.5 points and nine points
clear of PUMA, Torben Grael and his 10 crew of Ericsson 4 finished this leg
in fifth place. In an interview with Guy Swindells, skipper Torben Grael,
who raced every offshore leg with the same crew, was reflective in his
comments as overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 finally became a
“I think it is a mixed feeling because we know this is the end of the story
for the project. It¹s a funny feeling because some of these guys you have
never met before and you become like brothers. Now we go our own ways and
it¹s a strange feeling.
“On the other hand it has been a long race. It was a very long race around
the world. We are completely drained and tired so I think everyone is
looking forward to a nice rest. We have had a wonderful time. We enjoyed our
training time in Lanzarote and the race as well. We have had our ups and
downs, but it has been fun. After we won, it was a bit of a relaxing leg. It
has been so intense and so consuming so I think it is normal that after you
achieve your goals you relax. I am very glad for Telefónica Black and
Fernando and his guys for winning this last leg.”
Green Dragon kept her slender lead over Delta Lloyd to finish the leg in
sixth place, and fifth overall with 67 points.
To conclude the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, Delta Lloyd, the only generation
one Volvo Open 70 to compete in the race, finished shortly after Green
Dragon to finish the race on a total of 41.5 points.
Skipper Roberto Bermúdez said: ³We made a good job and everyone enjoyed
their time. Everyone is happy and that is the most important thing. It
started well but then there was some fighting with the Dragons. They did a
fantastic job with the manoeuvres and I say congratulations to them for
that. It has been fun.²
Ian Walker, skipper of Green Dragon, should have the last word:
³It is a privilege to sail in this fantastic race and I am very proud to
have had the chance. I am proud of every member of our team, and I am proud
of what we have achieved together. We promised to give it everything and to
never, ever give up and that is exactly what we have done. We haven¹t won
this race, but we have won many battles and achieved more than many dreamed
possible. It has been a very special year.²
Telefonica Black skippered by Fernando Echavarr Wins Leg 10 (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race )
Telefonica Black skippered by Fernando Echavarr
Telefonica Wins Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race In St Petersburg just minutes ago after a fierce battle between them and PUMA Ocean Racing for the last miles of the race.
TELEFONICA BLACK finished at 00:41:25 GMT – Elapsed leg time 1 day, 12 hours, 41 minutes 25 seconds – Total Race Time 87 days, 1 hour, 31 minutes 20 seconds
PUMA and Telefonica Black Neck and Neck Near St Petersburg Finish (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)
In the final run-in to the finish, Telefonica Black on starboard crosses in front of PUMA by 2.5 boat-lengths, and allows PUMA to carry on out to the south and tack on what looks like a layline to the finish.
Telefonica Black tacks onto port, and now has to maintain enough of their early advantage to cross clear in front as they come back together, as Ken Read has the right of way now PUMA has tacked to starboard.
Telefonica Black crosses in front of PUMA and tacks. Ken Read goes for speed and tries to get through to leeward. Both boats can sail straight to the finish, so it’s all about who has their bow forward. It’s Telefonica Black, quicker, and pulling out to a couple of lengths lead. It’s Telefonica Black, taking Leg 10.
“It’s a prize for all of the crew, all of the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but couldn’t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the last 100 miles. We are really happy.
“It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot. Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA and Blue and Ericsson for the last 250 miles. Really close. It has been like a match race. I don’t know how many tacks we have done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job.”
Stockholm to St. Petersbrg Leg Start (Photo By Dave Kneale)
PUMA, who is now assured second place overall, led the Volvo fleet out of Sandhamn, on the outer edge of the Stockholm archipelago today – a spectacular day where conditions were perfect for the start of the tenth and final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 to St Petersburg in Russia.
Sailing confidently in 10 -12 knots of breeze, PUMA, Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 4 were the front runners off the start line and a huge spectator crowd needed no excuse to get out on the water and watch what these ocean greyhounds do best. A steady breeze and flat water ensured plenty of white water spilled from the bows as the boats started a leg for the last time, fully powered up and under a cloudless sky.
Start of Leg (Photo by Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)
Leading round both buoys marking the traditional ‘sausage’ before heading to out to sea, the crew of PUMA had set the black boat up perfectly and extended their lead, while behind, Bouwe Bekking’s bowmen wrestled with their heavy code zero sail, which had remained furled and unused on the bow and was slowing the blue boat down. Green Dragon scorched past overall race winner Ericsson 4, who had the pressure put on by sister ship Ericsson 3, while Telefónica Black and Delta Lloyd were in the second string.
Team Russia joined the pack once the racing fleet had completed the inshore loop, to sail, but not to race, homewards to St Petersburg, with owner Oleg Zherebtsov working the bow as he did in the earlier legs of the race.
Although speeds were good as the fleet left Sweden behind, the leg is expected to be predominantly upwind to Russia and race rules allow for Race Director, Jack Lloyd, to shorten the 400-mile course if necessary. The fleet must arrive in St Petersburg on Saturday morning in order to clear customs and pass through two bridges, which will be raised specially in order to let the fleet into the historic city.
PUMA has now clinched second place overall, their performance improving hugely in the second half of the race. Telefónica Blue will take third after losing the battle for second when they finished last in leg nine after going aground in Marstrand, while Ericsson 4 is the runaway leader, winning the race with a leg to spare.
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 110.5 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 98.5 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 92.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 73.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 64.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 50.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 39.5 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points
TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB: received 25.6.09 2044 GMT
We just tacked with Ericsson 4 just few minutes after us. The last three hours have been a bit up and down, the wind was shifting quite a bit from something like 20 to 60 degrees TWD. The two Ericsson boats managed to climb up quite well on us thanks to some lifting puffs and we did the same thing to PUMA. We’re only 200 metres in front of Ericsson 4, nearly one mile in front of Ericsson 3 and same distance behind PUMA. We’re now all on port for another 30 minutes or so, after that we’ll all tack again towards the channel. Everyone is hiking hard pushing the boat. It’s going to be pretty long.
Gabri Olivo – MCM
GREEN DRAGON LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB: received 25.06.09 1616 GMT
Here we go again – sailing upwind and slowly losing miles. I will not miss this when the race ends. Fortunately, it cannot last for days, as St Petersburg is less than 300 miles away.
What a great city Stockholm is – it is definitely another place on my list that I will need to come and visit again. That city is built to host maritime events and the Archipelago is built for cruising. After the long but picturesque motor to the start off Sandhamn, we made a good start to the leg and enjoyed holding off Ericsson 4 and others for a leg or two. Now everybody is engaged in a drag race on port tack and we are nearly halfway to Estonia. Hopefully, something will change in the weather at some point to shake up proceedings. For now, it is a question of doing the best we can to stay in touch with the other boats. The conditions are perfect with flat water, medium winds and sunshine – who knows maybe we can get to St Petersburg without getting wet?
Ian Walker – skipper
ERICSSON 3 LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB: received 25.06.09 1800 GMT
I was a bit pessimistic in the first blog. I guess I was tired and Stockholm was too good to leave without a sad feeling. But once we got outside Sandhamn to the starting area, the mood got better.
Sun, flat water and 15 knots of breeze would make anyone happy. Unfortunately, we did not come of the start line in a good way. We were stuck with no speed and our poor positioning did not improve by an override with the sheet for the headsail. But we sorted it out quickly and once we had rounded the last mark, we were just a couple of metres after Ericsson 4, with PUMA and Telefónica Blue a bit further in front.
Now, at 1800, the positioning is pretty much the same. The Russians are behind us to leeward, Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon are straight to leeward. PUMA is still in front and Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 4 are following closely behind.
The most action-filled incident we had so far was when our Finnish guest had to jump overboard. Mason helped her get the drysuit on, then he led her down to leeward, lifted her up and held her with one arm above the surface until he thought the chaseboat was close enough. Then he let her go. Splash and gone! You really understand why you don’t want to fall overboard from one of these boat. To turn around and pick someone up would just take ages
Magnus has cheered up a bit and is now smiling more. He still tired and he knows this will be though. “It’s a bit of an anticlimax but we have to fight on and finish this race in a good way”, he says.
On the last legs we have had a big problem with tiredness. People just don’t get enough sleep. This time we are going to use the ‘standby watch’ system a bit more and everyone will get down to rest as soon as they can.
Gustav Morin – MCM
Fleet Rounding Mark (Photo by Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)
Publishers and Contributors. All rights reserved. No part of this public document may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written permission of the Copyright owner('s). Unless otherwise specifically indicated..no portion of this site may be copied, reproduced or duplicated electronically or otherwise without first obtaining the written permission from the copyright holder's. All images, graphics and Logos are under Copyright of the Adventurers, or their Sponsors/Company’s.