It was celebrations onboard Green Dragon as they held onto a podium spot taking third place on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Galway to Marstrand.
This marks two successive podium finishes for the Dragon and saw the seven boat fleet complete the 1,200 mile leg with 1 hour and 19 minutes splitting the fleet from front to back.
Ericsson 4 managed to hold off a determined PUMA and Green Dragon to win Leg 8, taking them ever closer to winning the race overall. They now hold a 15-point lead with just three scoring opportunities left (for a maximum 20 points) before the finish in St. Petersburg.
This leg was one of the shortest so far but it was unrelenting on the crews as they tacked and gybed their way from Ireland to Sweden, there was no end of manoeuvres pushing the crews to exhaustion.
Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker commented after the finish: ‘These shorter coastal legs are harder, from the moment we left Galway until the time we got here there was no time at all.
‘We were constantly making decisions or changing sails or planning stuff. There was one short period in the middle where we managed to rest up and without that we would have been in real trouble.
‘When we went through the Rotterdam loop and then it was windy downwind we were getting really tired at that point. I guess we recovered a bit and then it was very tiring again for the last 24 hours.’
Green Dragon battled to the end after sailing an excellent leg, which saw them in pole position on many occasions, but PUMA made a last minute pass in the early hours of the morning and crossed the line to take second just 50 seconds ahead of the Dragon.
Green Dragon sailed with the front runners from day one, leading the fleet around the Fastnet Rock and on many occasions held pole throughout the leg as they tussled with Ericsson 4 and Telefonica Black for the lead.
‘We sailed pretty much a perfect leg, so there’s no point in being upset,’ Walker said. ‘This leg, there were a lot of big tactical gains. We sailed a very different route to everyone else in the race. It clearly paid. It was only at the end when we were all straight-line reaching that they all came smoking past us.’
Securing third place along with Ericsson 3 completing the leg in seventh place means the battle for fourth place overall continues for Green Dragon with just 5.5 points separating the two boats with three scoring opportunities left, including an In Port race in Stockholm.
The teams are on a restricted regime now in Marstrand as it is classified as a ‘pit-stop’ and not a stopover. As a result, any repairs or maintenance have to be made by the crews, and no new sails, food or other material is permitted to be brought on board.
Crew substitutions are allowed however and Huang Jian who filled in for Leg 8, will step off and Guo Chuan will step onboard again in his role as Media Crew Member for the remainder of the race. Leg 9 kicks off on Sunday.