Only five boats left in race

In the Volvo Ocean Race only five boats remain on track for Qingdao. The attrition rate continues, as Ericsson 3 fell victim to the challenging conditions. Skipper Magnus Olsson discovered a series of cracks in the bow section just forward of the watertight bulkhead today around 0015 GMT. The boat was temporarily taking on water, but the crew has since halted the ingress and they are now safely in port in Taiwan.

Green Dragon continues to make steady progress north, they are approaching the northern tip of Taiwan and it will be a tense ride across to the coast of mainland China.
Ian Walker updated us on life onboard the Dragon, which is wounded but far from slain,
“Another hard 24 hours in which we managed to get the storms sails down and race sails up as the wind dropped below 30 knots and the waves eased off. We are still limiting our speed to reduce the slamming motion of the bow in the waves. We are also nursing the mainsail which is in tatters – I am not sure how many more times we can reef and un-reef it without it splitting in half. It was a very bumpy night as we rode the Kuro Shio or ‘black tide’ North against the prevailing winds and today I decided enough was enough. Our repair to the bow was deteriorating with all the slamming so we stopped the boat for a few hours to add some more material to the repair. I am very happy with the result. Unfortunately as we re hoisted the mainsail to get going the wind totally disappeared! We are now sitting in 3 knots of wind and 3 metre waves – enough to destroy any sails. This is incredibly frustrating as we know there is good weather awaiting us in the North if we can get there. The reality of maybe up to another week at sea is dawning on us and we are starting to economise. Already gas, power, some food and loo roll are being rationed! This leg is a war of attrition and we will keep fighting until we have no other options. I was close to pulling into Taiwan today when I saw the further damage to the bulkhead, but now we will keep going – I am happy the boat is safe. Singapore to Qingdao leg 4 hasn’t beaten the Dragon yet!”

Elsewhere the leading boat Telefonica Blue has not escaped without damage, following a collision with an object in the water in which they damaged the sacrificial bow section of the boat. Ericsson 4 was next to take a beating. They reported a squall of 40 knots which saw a fitting ripped from the foredeck. The top three boats, Telefonica Blue, Ericsson 4 and PUMA are all facing a dilemma; to push hard and stay in race mode to the finish, or keep the boat in one piece and actually get to the Qingdao!

Looking ahead, the forecasts shows those boats that can make it to the Yellow Sea will enjoy a shift from the relentless upwind slog to some reaching and then running conditions. The next 12 – 24 hours will be a testing time onboard for Ian Walker and his crew, as they creep around the northern tip of Taiwan and try to escape the Kuroshio current that has caused so many issues for the boats head of them.