Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ian Walker, Green Dragon skipper: We're not giving up

4 days into leg 2 and the Southern Ocean is living up to its name. 1 broken steering system, 1 Chinese gybe, 1 broken boom and now 3 knock downs but we are still charging along for the scoring gate at longitude 58 East. I have to confess to being slightly nervous about our predicament but the forecast is good and we will soon be heading North (ish). We seem to have the boat going pretty well but we are vulnerable to being knocked down in the frequent squalls as we are fairly committed to carrying a full main and there is no easy way to ease it. It is also setting very full and this affects the balance of the boat. It wasn’t an easy night for the guys on deck - and the temperature is falling fast.

The Green Dragon sailing with a broken boom. South Indian Ocean, 18 November 2008. Photo copyright Guo Chuan / Green Dragon Racing

Down below everything is sodden as we have several leaks (one of which is the hole we drilled in the side to jury rig the steering!). We also have a leaking daggerboard case, which has split. I feel a bit like the character the Black Night from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who refuses to be beaten and keeps on fighting as his arms and legs are cut off one by one by his adversary. We now have about 400 miles to the scoring gate and we lie in 3rd position (in terms of Easting) with a slender 25-mile lead over Puma and about 40 miles over the Russians. Our aim is to defend this as best we can and over the last 12 hours we have done just that. One of our challenges is going to be gybing - we are still discussing how we are going to do this - if at all - maybe we will granny round. We are also trying to sort out how we can reef if we need to. Tom Braidwood is itching to get going on fixing the boom but for now we are focusing on sailing fast to the scoring gate. This focus on racing hard is great for moral and everybody is determined to make the best of what we have.

Trying to fix the Green Dragon's broken boom. South Indian Ocean, 18 November 2008. Photo copyright Guo Chuan / Green Dragon Racing

For now then we are hanging on in there waiting for the wind to drop and shift to allow us to gybe and head back North. Our aim is to get as many points as we can at the scoring gate before worrying too much about how we will get to India. It still looks quite a long way away on the chart! Oh yes - I don’t wish to sound like a whinging pom but as if things can’t get any worse I should also mention that somebody has brought a bug on to the boat and half of us now have sore throats and headcolds - I suspect it won’t be long before we all do - Joy!

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