The last open ocean leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 got underway today after a short postponement,
There was confusion at the time of the start which led to four boats racing half the first beat of the inshore course before turning back to restart 20 minutes later. This was all caused because the gun which starts the race failed to fire.
After the gun finally fired for the re-start off the race village at Fan Pier, Downtown Boston the seven-strong fleet split immediately, with PUMA (Ken Read/USA ) looking really strong on port tack, followed by Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermúdez/ESP), Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP) and Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA), while Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE), Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) and Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) opted for a starboard tack start.
Telefónica Blue tore up through the fleet to lead round the first mark as fog descended on the course, followed by Telefónica Black, Green Dragon, PUMA, Ericsson 3 and Ericsson 4.
A large freighter moved into course as the fleet approached the mark. The freighter did not cause any problems for the leaders, but Delta Lloyd was forced to alter course by the ship which dropped them to last place.
The freighter reappeared as the fleet sailed back towards the gate at the start line off Fan Pier and the coastguard ushered the fleet away from it. The drama unfolded in front of a huge crowd of spectators watching the racing from the shoreline.
The final order as the fleet left Boston and disappeared into the mist heading for Galway in Ireland, was Telefónica Blue, Telefónica Black, PUMA and overall race leader Ericsson 4.
The first boat is scheduled to arrive in Galway, Ireland one week from today, but first the fleet has to cope with ice further south than normal, a whale exclusion zone just off Boston, and an ice exclusion zone to the east and south of Newfoundland.
If that was enough, past history will give the 77 sailors that make up seven competing crews plenty to think about on the 2,550nm leg seven to Galway.
In 2005-06 on this Atlantic leg Bouwe Bekking and his crew had to abandon their yacht Movistar and were rescued by the crew of ABN AMRO TWO who, days before, had had to cope with the loss of crewman Hans Horrevoets who drowned after being washed over the side.
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