Walker's World Race Diary - 21 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

When I left Alicante in October at the start of the race, the longest I had ever raced was a 630-mile Sydney to Hobart Race.

After sailing six legs and over 30,000 miles on this Volvo Ocean Race so far, a mere 2,550 miles leg seven across the Atlantic from Boston to our home port of Galway hardly seems a long distance any more.

We are over half way into that now and with gale force winds forecast we hope to be blown into Ireland by Sunday in time for the opening ceremony.

Galway is going to be a fantastic festival and we can't wait to complete our circumnavigation of the world by sailing into Galway Bay 11 months after we left.

On the race track, we are in sixth place ahead of Ericsson 3 and about an hour, or 20 miles, behind the next two competitors. As the wind builds, the fleet will head north before gybing onto starboard tack and bearing down on Galway.

The Independent's sailing correspondent Stuart Alexander speaks to Ian Walker via satellite phone.

With such strong winds forecast the order could still get shaken up. The leg so far has not been as tough as I feared. It has been cold, damp and very foggy, but, fortunately, no northerly gales off the Grand Banks and Newfoundland, where the Labrador Current keeps water temperatures just above zero.

The organisers have kept us away from a mass of icebergs by installing an ice exclusion zone south-east of Newfoundland, but even this let us sail 75 miles north of the Titanic's final resting place.

Fortunately, we have not seen any ice on this leg and are unlikely to now that the water is warmed by the Gulf Stream.

We need to push the boat to its limit in the next few days to grind down those ahead, but, with these boats, danger is never far away. It is with this, and the fatality and sinking in the North Atlantic during the last race in mind, that we will treat the next few days with upmost caution.

There may not be many miles to go but each of them deserves the same respect.

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.