Walker' World Race Diary - 22 May

Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker analyses the latest developments in the Volvo round the world race in his exclusive diary
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The Independent Online

It is 3am pitch black and you are on the edge of control when the wind gusts to 42 knots and all the electronic instruments go out. What do you do next?

The answer is you pray the helmsman somehow manages to keep steering that fine line between success and failure. The reality is that he will only succeed for a short while before a wave or gust catches him out and sure enough that's what happened.

With 'all hands' being called to shorten sail, down below was a mass of sleepy bodies trying to get dressed as the boat lay on its side sails flogging. On deck they fought to regain control and furl up one of the sails and Ian Moore went about fixing the electrical problem. Why do these things always happen at night and in the biggest gust of the day?

Minutes later we were back up and running again with no damage thankfully to boats or sails. This was to happen two more times later in the night and contributed to a loss of some miles after good gains before nightfall. The boat is awash above and below decks.

As I type this in the nav station I am ankle deep in water. Our bunk is soaked and so are many others. Fortunately it doesn't matter. We have 750 miles to Galway and it doesn't matter if we live in our kit soaking wet for 36 hours.

Nobody goes on deck without being harnessed to the boat and you need little reminder of why as time and time again people are washed down the decks. Neal got washed clean off the steering wheel twice last night alone.

On deck is no fun at night but has turned into fantastic sailing by day. This leg is setting up for an amazingly close finish into Galway but wherever we finish the memory of this leg will live with me. What we do in these boats is quite extraordinary.

Ian Walker has won two silver medals at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympic Games and was skipper of the Team GBR challenge for the America’s Cup in Auckland in 2003. Now he is skipper of the Galway-based, Chinese-partnered Green Dragon team in the Volvo Ocean Race and is writing an exclusive commentary for The Independent plus talking to Stuart Alexander by satellite link from the boat during the 10 legs and 37,000 miles that take the fleet from Spain around the world to St. Petersburg.