Walker's World Race Diary - 22 April

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 scarcely seems possible that we passed the scoring gate of Fernando de Noronha less than five days ago but now we are another 2,000 miles north and on a similar latitude to the southern tip of mainland USA.

The reason for such good speed is quite simple, and that is the consistent medium strength north-easterly trade winds. They make for very fast and easy sailing.

We currently have 16 knots of wind and we are sailing at just over 16 knots wearing shorts and t-shirts with just a little spray over the decks every now and then.

There has been little in the way of sail changes since the crazy period in the Doldrums, where towering clouds bring huge changes in wind speed and direction. By day you have to take care to shelter from the heat and UV of the sun, but by night it is fantastic with an almost moonless starry sky, flat water and not another boat or light in sight. The night time sailing is one of the strong memories I will take away from this race.

In these power reaching conditions, with few tactical choices, our lighter keel has led to us slipping back a few miles on our nearest rivals since making big gains in the Doldrums. It will be Friday when things liven up tactically.

We have a cold front to cross which will bring cloud, rain and a change to upwind sailing. It will also mark the end of the 'Caribbean sailing' and herald the arrival of the North Atlantic.

Between there and Boston we have to cross the notorius Gulf Stream current which consists of fast flowing, warm water heading north-east off the US seaboard, and then deal with lighter winds as we approach Boston.

We have nothing to lose right now and we will take any path open to us that gives us a glimmer of a passing lane over the other boats. We desperately want to do well as the Irish contingent in Boston is storing up quite a welcome for us.

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.