Saturday, February 07, 2009

Qingdao in-port race postponed due to fog and lack of wind

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] It was a difficult day in Qingdao on Saturday as fog decended overnight and never lifted off the race area over the course of the day. Visibility ranged from 200 metres to just under a kilometre over the afternoon, while the wind rarely built above five knots. In the end, racing in the Qingdao in-port race was abandoned for the day at 16:10 local time.

"It was difficult for everybody today," said Bill O'Hara, the principal race officer tasked with conducting fair racing today. "We stayed out as long as we could, but it wasn't to be. We'll try again tomorrow."

Wind was light all through the early stages of the afternoon, and by 15:00 local time, it seemed racing would be abandoned for the day. But just then, the breeze started to build, and by 15:30 a six knot southerly was blowing over the race course area. But it never settled in direction and at 16:10, racing was abandoned for the day.

"It looked promising for a few minutes there, but in the end, we couldn't have conducted a fair race," O'Hara said. "The teams were great, they gave us their input and were willing to wait as long as possible. Hopefully it's better on Sunday."

Fog and lack of wind postpone Qingdao in-port race. Qingdao, 7 February 2009. Photo copyright Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

The earliest proposed start time has been moved foward to 11:30 local time (03:30 GMT) on Sunday. No race will start after 14:30. Two races are still scheduled for the in-port race day, but only one race is necessary to count towards the overall Volvo Ocean Race scoring.

"Even when the breeze filled in, it was going back and forth by up to 90-degrees. The Race Committee absolutely made the right decision," said PUMA skipper Ken Read.

"It was disappointing," said Ian Walker, the Green Dragon skipper. "I don't think there was anything we could do about it. A lot of people have come down to see the boats race and they'll be disappointed, but hopefully we can make up for it tomorrow."

Green Dragon, currently sitting in fourth place on the leaderboard, is the team that stands to gain the most in any racing that takes place.

"I'll come back any day of the week if there are points up for grabs!" Walker said.

Hopefully that won't be necessary, but organisers say Monday remains as a reserve day, if necessary, as well.

That's a distinct possibility as Jennifer Lilly's forecast calls for winds of 4-6 knots, perhaps building as high at 8 knots and continued fog.



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