Volvo Ocean Race Day 3 emails from the boats

Ericsson 4 heads into the Straits of Gibraltar during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Latest Day 3 emails from the boats. Leg 1, Volvo Ocean Race.

TELEFONICA BLUE LEG ONE DAY 3 QFB: received 13.10.08 1437 GMT

Hi there,

I really didn't think that just one day into the first leg of the Volvo Race I would be eating a slightly cold but still vey tasty McDonalds and spending a night in a hotel room! Despite my fondness for junk food and a comfy bed, I would have much rather been out there eating freeze-dried and battling it out at the sharp end of the fleet.

Having to make a pit stop was a pretty gut-wrenching experience, despite our initial problems everyone had dug really deep, fought hard and we had got all the way back to within a couple of miles of the pack in front when we finally decided to suspend from racing. However hard, deep down we all new it was for the best - making sure our boat was strong enough to make it all the way was a must.

It's a tough thing in my position as navigator to have to watch 12 hours go by without moving - all of last night I was constantly thinking about the weather, whether stopping was the smart thing to do or not and about how much we were going to lose, were my calculation going to be right or not?

When I finally woke up, after 6 very good hours of sleep I was pleased to see that on the position report things could have been a whole lot worse. Of course they could have been better too but right now we are happy to take everything we can get and the miles we have gained back on the fleet couldn't be sweeter. We had good wind out of Gibraltar and the dark cloud that was over us seems to have disappeared. We are now speeding our way down the Moroccan coast chasing the rest of the fleet.

The aim of the game now is to be patient, continue working really hard and slowly claw back the miles on the rest of the guys ahead. The atmosphere on board is pretty good right now. With the repairs to the tiller arms our confidence in the boat has been restored and we now know that she can handle anything the weather throws at her. More importantly, though everyone is in a very determined state of mind, the sails and stack seem to move a bit quicker about the boat, sails changes seems a little faster than normal and everyone's senses are alert, determined not to miss a trick to get back at the guys ahead.

Personally, I still haven't given up on a podium finish on this leg, despite a tough start and some hard lessons learnt there are a lot of miles ahead of us with any luck we can make the most of them...

Until tomorrow.

Si Fi
(Simon Fisher – navigator)
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ERICSSON 4 LEG ONE DAY 3 QFB: received 13.10.08 1127 GMT

After the busy build up to the start looking forward to leaving and getting on with the race we are 2 days into leg 1 and we are finally getting some well-earned sleep after the tricky exit from the Med.

We have had a wide range of conditions so far and the boys have been working hard on sail changes and re-trimming the boat’s stacking weight.

Jules and Torben did nice work getting us in a good position to Gibraltar where we parked up for a while and again, when the fleet closed in on us, we managed to get a small jump near the African coast.

Life onboard is very pleasant but a little slow waiting to get into the trades and get on our way to the equator. The forecast is looking like a traditional weather scenario to the Doldrums at least, so it will be a drag race from tonight onwards when we hopefully get more breeze.

Leg 1 is my favourite leg and after 4 previous races this leg is different again and new obstacles have been keeping us busy for the past 2 days. Sailing in the Med is tricky at the best of times but we have had our moments. We were drifting backwards in the straits of Gibraltar and someone asked Jules how deep it would be to anchor, the reply was 400m so we decided to try and get moving instead of dealing with that. Dodging shipping is also a pastime in this part of the world.

We can see Puma, Telefónica Black, E3 and Dragon on our hip so the boys are sailing along downwind in 8 – 10 knots of breeze, sun shining. Today life is good, we’ll see how long it lasts?

Brad Jackson – watch captain
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GREEN DRAGON LEG ONE DAY 3 QFB: received 13.10.08 1146 GMT

'We have finally escaped the Med despite being parked for hours off Gibraltar. This was frustrating, as we had built up good leads over Puma and Telefonica Black, they were able to sail right up to us in the dying breeze. We seem to be struggling for speed relative to others when the wind shuts down. As of this morning the top five boats could all see each other as we gybed on the shifts heading South down the African coast. We can no longer see Ericsson 4 but Ericsson 3 is just ahead as are Puma and Telefoncia Black'.

Life onboard Green Dragon has been good, although some minor keel issues immediately after the start has meant that Tom Braidwood has been on 24 hour duty to resolve the issue. For the first day, the crew had been forced to operated the keel system manually, thankfully the system is now fully operational and the crew are focused on hooking into the north-easterly Trade winds as they sail south. The current routing takes them down the coast of Africa, then through the Canaries before taking a wind shift to get west, and set up for the Doldrums.

'Everybody is being very cagey covering every move or sail change. Puma and Telefonica Black seem to be very fast downwind in the light and they have consistently sailed away from us. We will have to be patient and hope our turn comes. Everybody on board is well rested now despite lots of frantic tacking and gybing and all the associated ‘stacking’ of gear and sails in the Med. Sometimes it feels more like we work for a removals company than a sailing team as we spend large amounts of time carting gear from one side of the boat to another - at least it will get easier as we use up the supplies! Life onboard is pretty pleasant with light winds and no water on deck.

We are carrying out a few minor running repairs and checking the boat over. It appears that Justin and Animal (Andrew McLean) have fixed the J4 halyard problem and we have got to the bottom of the keel issue that bugged us at the start. The only other thing of note was a stowaway passenger we had which was a robin (red breast) that flew into the boat and has been living in the galley. This was amusing for a few hours but we have now lost him and nobody saw him leave. The last sighting was of him flying aft towards the nav station. Hopefully he flew away for all our sakes.'

Skipper Ian Walker Green Dragon

Green Dragon puts their boat to the test, offshore at the start of leg 1 of The Volvo Ocean Race. Next is a 6,500nm battle to Cape Town, South Africa.

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DELTA LLOYD LEG ONE DAY 3 QFB: received 13.10.08 at 1257

We have mixed emotions in leaving family behind on this great race I have been fascinated by all my sailing life. As I looked around on the dock I could see many wife and 3 kids, family, friends I realise (not always realised while in the rat race) what they mean to me.

As I see fellow sailors / friends on competitor boats that just at that point in time, did not feel like competitors but more like friends and we wish each other safe passage and a beer or two in Cape Town.

We decided to be conservative on the start with a 27 to 30 knot start beating 2 miles to weather mark. We are happy with our upwind performance between some of the other fleet; she’s still fast reaching and running also. What a great blast out of Alicante some way to start this 37,000 mile race Volvo Ocean Race.

Now that we are settled into the daily pattern of watch systems, life aboard is settling into a nice boat work-eat-sleep rhythm. Choosing the fastest route (not always easy) given the confused pressure system caused us to sail into a hole where we had big losses on the fleet. Hindsi