No way points, no scoring gates, no stealth play during leg 4 means tactical options are wide open

Green Dragon had a good start to Leg 4 as they set sail from Singapore yesterday (18 January). In 12 – 15 knot northeasterly conditions the fleet took on a short triangular course close to the shore before heading out towards the Straits. CLICK HERE to see images from the start.

The 2,500-mile leg will see the crews sailing in upwind conditions. There are no way points, no scoring gates and no stealth play during this leg. The tactical options are wide open, as they sail through geographical challenges such as the Spratly Islands. The race to Qingdao is certainly going to be a testing time for all onboard, as well as a shock to the system as they head away from the tropical heat of the equator and into the freezing cold temperatures of northern China.

“I love a bit of carnage,” joked Green Dragon watch Captain Neal McDonald on the dock before departure. “The danger is not so much being swept overboard like it is in the Southern Ocean. It is bashing the boats to bits!”

Survival seemed to be key as the boats left the dock, whilst getting there first is the aim of the game, actually reaching the finish line will also play a huge part during this leg. Something that skipper Ian Walker confirmed: “You need to be fast and smart but most important, you need to get there in one piece”.

At 13:00 local time (GMT 8 hours) Leg 4 started. It was a tussle on the start line as the seven boats fought for clear wind and the best possible position. Whilst Ian Walker and his crew looked good as they approached the line, they found themselves boxed in by the two Ericsson boats, but they were soon on the chase and stuck to far the right hand side of the course.

It was a two mile beat upwind before they approached the first mark, Green Dragon tacked just a boat length in front of Ericsson 3, but they were pinned in allowing Magnus Olsen and his crew to roll past, forcing the Dragon to round the first mark in fourth. The downwind section saw the big gennakers come out, Ericsson 4 and PUMA stretched their legs away from the remaining fleet.

There was a tricky sail change onboard Green Dragon as the crew fought hard to get the gennakar up. But they were soon back on track gaining ground on Ericsson 3, by the final mark they had reclaimed third and were chasing PUMA and Ericsson 4.

As the fleet headed out into the Straits of Singapore and onto the South China Sea, Green Dragon said goodbye to one more person. Local Singapore businessman Colm Mulqueen joined Green Dragon for the start – having donated $12,500 dollars to the Ocean Youth Trust for the privilege. The money raised will allow a group of Singapore children the opportunity to travel to Galway, Ireland for the port stopover, which will begins on the 23 May.

Volvo Ocean Race Positions – Monday 19 January

1. PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken Read/USA)
2. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA)
3. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED)
4. Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto Bermudez/ESP)
5. Ericsson 3 SWE (Magnus Olsson/SWE)
6. Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando Echávarri/ESP)
7. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR)

Overall Leaderboard

1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 39 points
2. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 33.5 points
3. PUMA (Ken Read/USA): 31 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 24 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 22.5 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 19 points*
7. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points
8. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 10 points

*Penalty of three points applied for rudder change