Green Dragons reach their spiritual home

Ian Walker reports from the Fastnet Rock

Monday July 28th 2008, Author: Lucy Harwood, Location: United Kingdom
The Green Dragon Volvo Ocean Race sailing team arrived into Galway, Ireland yesterday, after a short delivery from their current training base in Cork. The Galway Bay Sailing Club greeted the Volvo Ocean Race team with a flotilla of boats in Galway Harbour. The team, who will be based in Cork until the end of August, are using Ireland as a training ground before the Volvo Ocean Race kicks off from Alicante on 11 October. The delivery from Cork, allowed another opportunity for the Green Dragon crew to test some of the systems, skipper Ian Walker reported from on board:

“It seems appropriate that the first report from on board our new Volvo Open 70 Green Dragon should be as we round the legendary Fastnet Rock, at the southernmost tip of
Ireland. This rock has a special place in sailing folklore and one can’t help but think back to the tragic events in the 1979 Fastnet and of all friends and colleagues we know who have been lost at sea. It is also a stark reminder of the importance of safety and never is that more important than in these awesome boats. Fortunately we should have no problems today as we are sailing under full main and mast head zero in a 10 knot southerly breeze. We are leaving the Fastnet Rock to Starboard having sailed the 50 miles from Cork and we now head north for the future Volvo Ocean Race stopover port of Galway on the west coast of Ireland. This has been an amazing journey for this boat having started life on the mould in McConaghy boatyard in Zhuhai, China, then shipped to the UK, where the team commissioned and worked her up over a month in both Gosport and Cork.

"Galway marks the end of this particular journey but the start of a new chapter. At only 220 miles this will be a short trip - estimated at 22 hours right now and we are not only breaking in some new systems but sail testing as we go. We are trying to learn how best to sail the boat but deadlines for ordering new sails are fast upon us and design decisions have to be made. Right now, Tom Braidwood who project managed the build is proudly steering whilst Scott, Phil and Eamon work the trim. It is great that two of our boat building team Clayton and Ben are also on board after all their hard work (and others!) in building the boat.

"The southwest coast of Ireland is an amazing site and everyone is enjoying the scenery. I have sailed up this particular coastline before with Eamon Conneely (trimming the main right now) on the TP52 Patches and it has to be seen to be believed. I can’t wait to sail past the Araan Islands and into Galway Bay - where we will be sailing in from Boston in 10 months time. It hardly seems possible that we will have sailed round the world between now and May 2009.

"Anyway its my turn to steer the next set of tests as we bear off and set the A2 spinnaker so I’d better get back on deck. Galway here we come - just in time for the Galway Races!”

The Green Dragon Volvo Open 70 will be based in Galway until Thursday 31 July, after which they will return to Cork for a short re-fit before heading into the Atlantic for their 2000-mile race qualifier.

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