Monday, December 22, 2008

Volvo Ocean Race story for children in The Hindu - Young World

A story from the viewpoint of children about Volvo Ocean Race, titled "Sea spray in your hair" was published in The Hindu's Young World (Kochi edition) dated December 23, 2008.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An overview: Volvo Ocean Race Cochin Stopover

The departure ceremony of Volvo Ocean Race is only six hours away. The 10-day long stopover (14 days for the first team, Ericsson 4 and Telefonica Blue; 13 days for Ericsson 3, Telefonica Black, Puma, Green Dragon and Delta Lyold & for Team Russia, exactly 10 days, who reached soon after the inauguration ceremony on December 3); will see its curtain fall as the teams will get an official flag off this noon.

The press release states a million people visited the stopover village - the kind of statistics, which alarms many others, and me though it's a fact there was a huge crowd in the past few days. It’s hard to believe the numbers touched a million! The projection was unrealistic even on the inauguration day, when it was announced 50,000 – 1,00,000 people attended the function. The queue to enter the ride, dome and Volvo Pavilion was long and the queue to the ride took as long as two hours to enter and experience the sailing effects.

Further, the press release states 100 stalls participated in the exhibition. The exhibition - Ocean Race Trade Fest was a major disappointment for the visitors as three-fourth of the pavilion was empty! And probably the total number of stalls must have been 25. The notable stall was of ISRO and the handicraft stall of Kudumbasree. There was a picture museum and to see the pictures kept inside, they charged Rs.5 per head.

The most crowded part was the food carnival, where people were flowing in to taste the dishes. Most of these food stalls offered expensive food, and a plate of fried rice or biriyani (the information was passed by many who attempted to buy a plate!) cost Rs.200. Though many backed out of because of the unrealistic pricing, the crowd was still high. Many others complained the area was so much packed that they couldn't even attempt to buy anything.

There's more to write, but it's time for me to head to the race village to witness the flag off and all the programmes planned for today.

Crew list for leg 3 (Cochin to Singapore) of Volvo Ocean Race

The crew list for leg 3 was released today.

1. Roberto Bérmudez de Castero/ESP – skipper
2. Matthew Gregory/USA - navigator
3. Sander Pluijm/NED -MCM
4. Stuart Wilson/NZL – watch captain
5. Ryan Houston/NZL – watch captain
6. Edwin O’Connor/IRL – trimmer
7. Martin Watts/GBR – trimmer
8. Peter Van Nierkerk/ NED – helmsman
9. Eduard van Lierde//NED – helmsman
10. Gerd-Jan Poortman/NED – bowman
11. Morgan White/AUS - bowman

No changes

1. Torben Grael/BRA - skipper
2. Jules Salter/GBR - navigator
3. Guy Salter/GBR - MCM
4. Brad Jackson/NZL – watch captain
5. Stu Bannatyne/NZL – watch captain
6. Dave Endean/NZL - pitman
7. Horacio Carabelli/BRA - trimmer
8. Tony Mutter/NZL - trimmer
9. Joao Signorini/BRA - trimmer
10. Ryan Godfrey/AUS - bowman
11. Phil Jameson/NZL – bowman

No changes

1. Anders Lewander/SWE - skipper
2. Aksel Magdahl/NOR - navigator
3. Gustav Morin/SWE MCM
4. Richard Mason/NZL - watch captain
5. Magnus Olsson/SWE – watch captain
6. Thomas Johanson/FIN - helmsman
7. Eivind Melleby/NOR – helmsman
8. Martin Strömberg/SWE – trimmer
9. Jens Dolmer/DEN - pitman
10. Anders Dahlsjö/SWE - mastman
11. Martin Krite/SWE - Bowman

No changes

1. Ian Walker/GBR - skipper
2. Steve Hayles/GBR - navigator
3. Guo Chuan/CHN - MCM
4. Damian Foxall/IRL – watch captain
5. Neal McDonald/GBR – watch captain
6. Anthony Merrington/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
7. Phil Harmer/AUS – helmsman/trimmer
8. James Carroll/AUS – pitman/trimmer
9. Andrew Mclean/NZL – pitman/trimmer
10.Freddie Shanks/GBR - bowman
11.Justin Slattery/IRL – bowman

ON: Steve Hayles/GBR – navigator
James Carroll/IRL – pitman
OFF: Ian Moore/IRL – navigator OFF
Tom Braidwood/AUS – pitman/trimmer

1. Ken Read/USA - skipper
2. Andrew Cape/AUS - navigator
3. Rick Deppe/GBR MCM
4. Sidney Gavignet/FRA – watch captain
5. Chris Nicholson/AUS – watch captain
6. Robert Greenhalgh/GBR – helmsman/trimmer
7. Michael Müller/GER – helmsman/bowman
8. Rob Salthouse/NZL – helmsman/trimmer
9. Casey Smith/AUS – bowman
10. Shannon Falcone/ANT – trimmer/pitman
11. Justin Ferris/NZL – helmsman/trimmer

On: Robert Greenhalgh/GBR – helmsman/trimmer
Off: Robert Naismith/NZL – helmsman/trimmer

1. Andreas Hanakamp/AUT - skipper
2. Wouter Verbraak/NED - navigator
3. Sergey Bogdanov/RUS - MCM
4. Stig Westergaard/DEN – watch captain
5. Nick Bubb/GBR – watch captain
6. Rodion Luka/UKR - helmsman
7. Jeremy Elliott/IRL - trimmer
8. Ben Costello/NZL - trimmer
9. Mike Joubert/RSA - bowman
10. Camron Wills/RSA – trimmer
11. Scott Gray/GBR – bowman/Pitman

On: Sergey Bogdanov/RUS - MCM
Scott Gray/GBR – bowman/Pitman

Off: Oleg Zherebtsov
Mark Covell/GBR – MCM

1. Bouwe Bekking/NED - skipper
2. Iker Martinez/ESP - co-skipper/helmsman
3. Simon Fisher/GBR- navigator
4. Gabriele Olivo/ITA - MCM
5. Jonathan Swain/RSA – watch captain
6. Jordi Calafat ESP – helmsman
7. Tom Addis/AUS - helmsman
8. Xabier Fernandez/ESP - trimmer
9. Pablo Arrarte/ESP Spanish - trimmer
10. Daryl Wislang/NZL - bowman
11. Pepe Ribes/ESP - bowman

On: Tom Addis/AUS - helmsman
Off Laurent Pages/FRA – helmsman

1. Fernando Echávarri/ESP- skipper
2. Roger Nilson/SWE - navigator
3. Mikel Pasabant/ESP - MCM
4. Santiago Lange/ARG – watch captain
5. Gonzalo Araujo/ESP – watch captain
6. Jaime Arbones/ESP – watch captain
7. Pablo Iglesias/ESP - helmsman
8. Javier De La Plaza/ESP - helmsman
9. David Vera/ESP - trimmer
10. Antonio Cuervas-Mons/ESP - trimmer
11. Michael Pammenter/RSA - bowman

On: Pablo Iglesias/ESP - helmsman
Off: Maciel Cicchetti/ARG - helmsman

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cochin Stopover is coming to an end on December 13, 2008

Cochin will witness the flag off cermony to mark the start of leg 3 of Volvo Ocean Race on December 13, 2008, 12 noon (locat time). A lot has been happening in the race village - several cultural events and the crowd too has been good over the past few days.

(Will update the blog with Cochin related stories in the next few days. I too have been held up with the events and the stories. I hope to follow the race till the end, so though it was meant for Cochin stopover, I would continue talking about the race. I am addicted to knowing more about Volvo Ocean Race and its happenings!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fishing vessels in festival mood

The picture was shot while fishing vessels took charge of the backwaters and were in a festival mood - an event on December 6th evening at the race village in Kochi.

(Photo Credits: Resmi Jaimon; Date: December 6, 2008)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mini Pooram at the Race Village

Fifteen (15) elephants march towards the Race Village at around 1705 hours (local time) today. The image shows what the organizers called as "Mini Pooram" (with reference to the original Thrissur Pooram), getting ready for the festive mood.
(Photo Credits: Resmi Jaimon / Date: December 4, 2008)

Bouwe Bekking's interview online

Bouwe Bekking's interview is online at

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bouwe Bekking's Interview in The Hindu's Metro Plus - Kochi edition

The interview I had with Bouwe Bekking, skipper of Telefonica Blue has appeared in The Hindu's Metro Plus dated December 4th, 2008 (ie. today).The story will also appear online later today.

The Official Inauguration Ceremony of the Race Village

Though the Race Village and certain areas (like Volvo Pavilion, Media center etc) were functioning since the first yacht arrived on November 30th; the official inauguration ceremony of the race village, as pre-planned was held this evening (December 3rd, 2008).

On 3rd Dec 2008, Honorable union Minister of parliamentary affairs, Sri.Vayalar Ravi inaugurated the Volvo Ocean Race, India Stopover, Cochin. The statement says, Honorable Minister for Vigilance and Tourism Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Sri.Chandran Plllai MP, Sri.Sebastian Paul M.P,Sri.K.V Thomas M L A, Sri.Thomas Chandy M.L.A, Mr. Knut Frostad, CEO Volvo Ocean Race ,officials and public participated in the public function held at Race Village at Willingdon island.

The release from the Volvo Ocean Race states, "Thousands of people, most without any prior knowledge of the race, packed the village in their droves. When the doors are closed and the last visitor has left later tonight, N Ramachandran, chairman of Cochin Port Trust, predicts between 50,000 and 100,000 people will have been in attendance." (50,000 - 100,000 ???? An unbelievable statement for those who were present during the ceremony and considering there isn't enough space to accommodate the said number of people in the race village!)

Ericsson 3 crew, soon after their arrival

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: December 1st, 2008)

Soon after Ericsson 3 arrived on December 1st, around 1420 hours (local time)

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: December 1st, 2008)

Ericsson team and others await Ericsson 3's arrival

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: December 1st, 2008)

Visitors to the race village await Ericsson 3's arrival on December 1st, around 1400 hours (local time)

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: December 1st, 2008)

Seven teams in Kochi, waiting for the arrival of the eighth - Team Russia

The last three days, I was spending time at the Race Village and today, I chose to sit back home to file a couple of Volvo related stories.

The day before - December 1st noon was interesting when I waited for the arrival of Ericsson 3. The only yacht I have witnessed reaching Kochi. Ericsson 4 reached Kochi during the early hours of November 30th, Telefonica Blue by late evening on November 30th and Telefonica Black, Puma, Delta Lyold and Green Dragon by late evening on December 1st. Team Russia is yet battling their way to Kochi. Hopefully, they should make it tonight or tomorrow morning. With just one team still out in the sea, I was curious to know they were taking things. As I logged on to Volvo Ocean Race website, I found the following release - an interesting one from Team Russia:

'A defiant Mark Covell, the media crew member on board, says spirits remain high and the team is looking forward to the finish:

"We are on the emerald highway home and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying our last few days at sea. Even the rain that is falling now will not break our spirit," he wrote. "We have been catapulted forward by huge waves of the Southern Ocean and stopped dead in our tracks by Indian fishing nets on a stop-start of a leg that still has yet to stop...We hold our heads up high and congratulate the winners."

The team is certainly maintaining its sense of humor, calling in its StealthPlay overnight only to cancel it after a couple of position reports. The team can expect a warm welcome for its efforts when it arrives in Cochin.'

That says it - let us welcome, the eighth team – Team Russia to Kochi.

Story related to Volvo Ocean Race in JetWings (December 2008)

My travelogue on Willingdon Island, Kochi plus a short note on pre-event Volvo Ocean Race Stopover in Cochin story has appeared in Jetairway's inflight magazine - Jetwings (December 2008).

Willingdon Island is the place where the race village for Volvo Ocean Race is set up.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ericsson 3 reaches Cochin with the third position

Ericsson 3 (Anders Lewander) appeared at the berth by around 1420 local time. According to the press note, Ericsson 3 spent the final 24 hours of the leg almost drifting, choosing to activate their StealthPlay in order to keep their position secret and prevent the chasing pack from sailing round them while they were becalmed. The crossed the finish at 0736 GMT (1306 local time) on December 1st, 2008.

Further the note says, on stepping ashore, skipper Anders Lewander said, “Coming into port is wonderful. It is something you dream of and realising it feels so great. A podium position is extraordinary. This race is worth fighting to be involved in. We have spent a lot of time developing and learning and each leg has its achievements, and on this leg, we have been though all sorts of weather. We now know how we can go forward. I have great confidence in the team.”

Telefonica Blue, led by Bouwe Bekking Takes the Second Position in Leg Two

In 15 days, one hour, 17 minutes and 50 seconds, in spite of serious damage to the daggerboard, Bouwe Bekking's Telefonica Blue reached Kochi at 1237 GMT (1807 local time) on November 30th, 2008 (yesterday).

The press release read, '“It was really fantastic to come second, but it was bloody hard,” said skipper Bouwe Bekking. “The ‘no wind’ was tricky, but I suppose the locals are used to it, but this afternoon was difficult. We were always hoping for a first, but second is still a good result. The last 18 hours as hugged the shore, so we have seen quite a bit of the Indian coastline, the lovely views and beautiful beaches.”'

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ercisson 4 near BTP Berth in the Race Village at Kochi

Ercisson 4 near BTP Berth in the Race Village at Kochi

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

Torbeb Grael and his companion during the press meet at the Media Centre in the Race Village

Torbeb Grael (right) and his companion, a crew member of Ericsson 4 during the press meet at the Media Centre in the Race Village.

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

Ericsson team walking towards the Volvo Ocean Race Office to Address the Media

Ericsson team walking towards the Volvo Ocean Race Office to Address the Media

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

The Ride at the Race Village

Volunteers (who later take up charge of The Ride & The Grinding Challenge) listens as Eric explains about The Ride and what it's in store for the visitors.

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

Here's where you can try the grinding challenge!

Here's where you can try the grinding challenge!

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

Inside Volvo Pavilion

Inside Volvo Pavilion

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

Volvo Pavilion, soon after the opening cermony

Volvo Pavilion, soon after the opening cermony

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

Construction of Puma, Ericsson Pavilions in Progress

Construction of Puma, Ericsson Pavilions in Progress

(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)

Experiencing The Race Village, Kochi

Work in and around the Race Village is still in progress as I stepped there this morning. The place was almost empty till around 10:30 am, when staff of Port Trust and their families started pouring in. Soon, media were also seen around. Ericsson 4's yacht was parked near the BTP Berth. I talked to Eric from Sweden, of the Volvo Ocean Race team. He gave me a quick demonstration of The Ride and The Grinding Challenge. There were many young boys - volunteers trying to take charge of 'The Ride' and 'The Grinding Challenge.' I saw the first batch of ride takers emerging from the Ride - some of them had their face and dress soaked in water. I took the ride when they let in the second batch. The ride showed different experiences one could possibly encounter during the race.

The Grinding Challenge requires good effort - so didn't dare to touch it! I also entered the Dome, after waiting in the queue under the sizzling sun for fifteen minutes. The Dome, was displaying a short history of the race, the previous years and how life is at the extreme.

Then, I visited the Volvo Pavilion where one can learn more about the Volvo Ocean Race through the hoarding, video clippings and also about Volvo's launches. One can also check their driving skills - there are a number of options. I tried only to crash my dummy car without even giving a thought that one need to step on the break!

By the time, I finished taking the ride etc, Ericsson 4's yacht was out of night. Those whom I asked said the crew should be tired and sleeping. Few minutes later, I found them with their yacht at the other end of the Berth. They were still at work in their yacht. Soon, I saw 4-5 of them coming with a lady (which I later came to know is the wife of a crew member). I asked them if they are the Ericsson 4 team and congratulated them on their success! I also attended Ericsson 4's press meet, where they shared some of their experiences. It was also an opportunity I was looking for, for getting answers and using them for the story I am working for a national magazine.
Telefonica Blue will reach at 1900 hrs (Indian time).

The Race Village will hopefully see more tourists arriving till December 13th, 2008, to meet the sailors and experience the facilities at the Race Village to know more about Volvo Ocean Race.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ericsson 4 wins leg two - Volvo Ocean Race

Ericsson 4, as expected won the Volvo Ocean Race - Leg Two, from Cape Town, South Africa to Cochin, India. They reached Cochin at 0422:30 local time (2252:30 GMT on Nov. 29). According to the press release, Ericsson 4 completed the 4,450-nautical-mile leg from Cape Town,South Africa, in 14 days, 11 hours, 32 minutes and 30 seconds. The crew earned 12 points on the leg - 8 points for the leg win and 4 points for first at the scoring gate. Ericsson 4 now has 26 points total and retains the fleet lead.

Further, the statement says, "In the end, Ericsson 4 was made to wait painfully for this victory. It took nearly nine hours to complete the final 65 nautical miles, a snail's pace for the speedy VO 70s. While they were drifting to the finish, the fleet was closing up from behind."

"We're very happy to be here. Very relieved and very satisfied. Relief is a common emotion after how light it got at the end," said watch captain Stu Bannatyne. "There's always a risk to get overtaken when you park up. The others can see where you're parked and it can all disappear very quickly. Fortunately we had enough."

Good work, to Ericsson 4 crew!

Stealth Play Declared as Ericsson 4 and Telefonica Blue race towards Cochin

Ericsson 4, the yacht expected to finish first during leg two of Volvo Ocean Race declared stealth play today when all it was left to finish leg two was 65 nautical miles. They went to the stealth mode soon after 1000 GMT position report. Following, Telefonica Blue also went into stealth play with 125 nautical miles left to reach Kochi, at 1300 GMT.

Inconsistent winds were gripping Ericsson 4 before it went into stealth mode. The press release says, “However, their large cushion of 77 miles (as at 1000 GMT) should be of some comfort. In the variable winds, their estimated time of arrival could slip back late into the night.” Hopefully Ericsson 4 will be the first to land in India. And thus will mark the beginning of the much-awaited Cochin Stopover. Moreover, it will also be a proud moment for India, to be the first country in Asia to host such a mega-adventure sporting event.

Normally, it is required to report position and speed at the Race Headquarters. And they will pass on this report to other teams. However, during a particular leg, the teams have one chance to declare stealth play when they can refrain from sharing reports about position and speed. Thus, the team can keep away these details for nine hours. And since both the teams are already close to Cochin, the organizers hope they will touch Cochin within the nine hours timeframe.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ericsson 4 puts up a good show, with Telefonica Blue in the second position

Ericsson 4 continues to lead the fleet and in the past 24-hours they covered 244 miles and are 100 miles ahead of the second yacht. Telefonica Blue, has surprisingly has put Ericsson 3, Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon behind, to gain the second position. The data tables shows the one-hour average speed of Ericsson 4 is 17.3 knots, Telefonica Blue is 11.5 knots, Delta Lloyd - 6.5 knots, Green Dragon - 5.5 knots and Ericsson is 1.0 knot!

Ericsson 4 is expected to reach Kochi on Sunday evening (Indian time) while the other teams is expected to reach within the next two days.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Beating Doldrums, Ericsson 4 leads

Doldrums has been the talk of the teams for the past couple of days. The teams were waiting to know what is in store for them, before they reach Kochi. The incoming reports state Ericsson 4 continues to lead. Ericsson 4, during leg one, has set a 24-hour record in gale force winds and they are doing extremely well even with the doldrums in effect. The release says, “Over the past 24 hours, Ericsson 4’s lead over teammates Ericsson 3 has increased from 5 to 57 nautical miles on the 04:00 GMT position report.” Wind speed is 6.3 knots. “While Ericsson 4 has a notable lead; Ericsson 3, Green Dragon, Delta Lloyd and Puma are tightly bunched, with just 25 miles separating the four boats,” states the media release.

With less than 692 miles to reach Kochi, the first yacth is expected to reach the shores atleast by Sunday (November 30, 2008). This is much before the scheduled arrival on December 3, 2008.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Report and images: My second visit to Volvo Ocean Race Village at Kochi

I had my second visit to the Race Village at Willingdon Island, Kochi yesterday noon. My mother also accompanied me to the Race Village before she left for her city.

One of the roads leading to Cochin Port Trust and Race Village was blocked for the traffic towards the Race Village. An indication of the maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure facilities going in Willingdon Island! We took the second and the alternative road, already ready to welcome the ocean race visitors and tourists.

Roads near the Race Village and Cochin Port Trust office were also blocked for maintenance. All seems to be in hurry, catching up with last minute work at the Race Village. The Media Office is close to completion.

Of all the developments seen in the Race Village, the most amazing (find the image taken yesterday – November 25th) is the Volvo Pavilion. The structure was finished in three days time. The staircase was also clearly visible as I took a peep from outside. 20 people are working, surviving mainly on apple and juice, as a Cochin Port Trust staff tells me!

The Pavilion space for Puma, Ericsson etc are marked near Volvo's Pavilion. The Pavilion for Indian brands referred to as 'Ocean Race Trade Fest' stretches across 300 meters. The floating structure, to be used for maintenance of Volvo Ocean Race yachts and the BTP berth is also near completion. However, the chance of the race teams reaching Kochi before the scheduled date, December 3rd cannot be overlooked. There are reports, if all goes well and the yachts continue to sail the way they are doing now, the chances of the first yacht reaching Kochi could be as early as November 28th evening. The security is also high and will be tighter when the stopover begins.

I am looking for frequent visits to the Race village in the days to come, including for the stories I have lined up.

(Find below, some of the images I shot during my visit to the Race Village.)

(Image 1 : Volvo Pavilion under construction at the Race Village, Kochi on Novemeber 25th, 2008. Picture by Resmi Jaimon) (Image 2 : Ocean Race Trade Fest pavilion under construction at the Race Village, Kochi on Novemeber 25th, 2008. Picture by Resmi Jaimon)
(Image 3 : Space for special guests, under modification at the Race Village, Kochi on Novemeber 25th, 2008. Picture by Resmi Jaimon)
( (Image 4 : Venue for conducting inagural function etc. Picture by Resmi Jaimon)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Race Village Construction Site (as on November 24, 2008)

This picture was supplied by Cochin organisers. Watch out for more images and news! I'll update this section as soon as I make my next and second visit to the race village this week.

Ericsson 4 leads the way

The latest reports indicate Ericsson 4 continues to lead the way, of the eight racing teams in Volvo Ocean Race. Ericsson 3 is close enough to Ericsson 4 and was sailing ahead of all the team for a while yesterday. In the second group comes, Puma, sailing between Telefonica Blue (to the West) and Green Dragon (to the North). The enthusiastic crew members of Puma, Green Dragon and Telefonica Blue are proving damages does not take away one's spirits and they are sailing appreciably in spite of the damages they have faced over the past few days. Telefonica Black, Team Russia and Delta Lloyd are sailing behind the rest of the team.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Volvo Ocean Race crew welcomes the warm weather

Racing around the world, the crew members of the Volvo Ocean Race have the chance to experience various cultures, climatic conditions and tons of experiences; only the team can share their good and not-so-good moments with us.

In the leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race, the crew now has a reason to cheer! Thanks to the warm weather.

They have been talking about clothing and climatic conditions since the last few days. They were wet and still sailing - part of what they have to experience during their sailing. Ian Walker, Skipper, Green Dragon, says, "It is amazing that only three days ago the clothing call was thermals, boots, gloves, crash helmets and double fleece sleeping bags and now we are happily in shorts, UV tops, shoes, sunhats and sun cream." He observes, 'The water temperature has more than doubled and so too has the air.'

It was so for Delta Lloyd too. Ryan Houston - watch captain says in his report, "Our first warm and sunny day of Leg 2. It was a great day for drying out our clothes, and cleaning out the boat. The wind and waves were calm and I think that we will all sleep well on our off watches today."

We've done several sail changes to keep up with a rapidly changing wind direction. Over the course of the day, the wind shifted 180 degrees around to the east. We are now sailing with our Fractional Zero headsail again. This sail has seen a lot of hours on leg 2. We love this sail. It's fantastically versatile. We are looking forward to the trade winds and some warm weather.

Team Russia too talks about the weather in their entry." Everyone on board really enjoyed yesterday’s warmer and drier weather after being cold and wet for almost a week. Everything went on deck to dry out; less moisture is less weight, which will help, in the light stuff ahead," Andreas Hanakamp - skipper.

The fleet is now looking to the trade winds and warm weather.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Images: Race Teams in Action !

Pablo Arrarte & Daryl Wislang, Telefonica Blue during a sail change on November 18, during leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cochin, India. (Picture below)
Antonio Cuervas sprints across Telefonica Black's deck in rough seas during leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Cape Town, South Africa to Cochin, India. (Picture below)

The crew of Puma make repairs to their boat after sustaining serious structural damage in rough seas, for the second time in 24 hours, on November 20th. (Picture below)

Amazing shot of rainbow in the Indian Ocean from Telefonica Black

An image, which says, even in the Ocean you can capture good shots! The image shows rainbow in the Indian Ocean from Telefonica Black, on leg two of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Piracy, an area of concern during the leg two of Volvo Ocean Race?

Since the fleet passed the scoring gate at Mauritius, the discussion is about the piracy. As the press release says, "The seizure of an oil tanker off the coast of Somalia has placed piracy on the global news agenda over the past week, and the issue has become a talking point on board as the fleet head north towards India."

It was in the view of piracy threat, Volvo Ocean Race organizers made change in the route. Thereafter, a new scoring gate was introduced below Mauritius and a new direction was announced. This led the fleet to take a new route, which includes exclusion zone to keep the fleet east and away from Somalia. A Philippines chemical tanker with 23 crew was recently hijacked in Somalia. The fleet is thus cruising 1,500 miles away from the incident spot.

The organizers have taken safety measures - i.e. practices and procedures to deal with any untowardly incidents. According to Debbie Hawden, the Chief Duty Officer, whose team safeguard the boats 24x7 from race headquarters says, "We are sending our three-hourly reports to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organization who are responsible for security and piracy in the region,” she said. “In return, they regularly report to us on what warships are in the waters the fleet are traveling to should assistance be needed."

Piracy, is definitely a cause for concern for the race team. Guy Salter, the Media Crew Member aboard Ericsson 4, in his email said. ”I guess it must be huge news onshore but in the last day, we have been getting the news of the piracy off Somalia,” he wrote. “Pirates come in all shapes and forms, from the fully-organized terrorist style, which we are reading about so much, to the opportunists. ”There are a lot of reported incidents, which are not piracy at all. I have sailed many, many miles throughout South East Asia and piracy was one of the big worries in this area, all too often curiosity is reported as piracy.”

Gustav Morin - MCM, Ericsson 3 writes, "There has been a lot of talking about the dangers of piracy in the areas we are sailing into. Their best business is to take hostages and demand money. Hmm, I wonder how much a bunch of professional sailors would be worth?"

He further says, "We will probably never find out. Firstly, because I’ve heard that you should never pay people for hostages, since it will only make them commit the same crime again and they will probably kill you anyway. The other reason is that I don’t think we will see any pirates at all. We will never be closer than 1400 NM to the coast of Somalia and if the waves are higher than two meters and we are sailing in more than 15 knots of boat speed, I don’t think they will even consider trying to catch us."

Piracy is a part of what the Volvo Ocean Race team could face during the race across the world. And the team carries on with much efforts and hopes, though they do think of piracy, still hoping they won't be taken as a hostage!

Inauguration Ceremonies at the Race Village

During the press meet held today, the following programmes for the inauguration ceremonies were announced:

1. Shri P K Gurudasan, Honorable Minister for Excise and Labour, will inaugurate the Race Village on November 30th 2008 at 10 AM, in the presence of Prof. Mercy Williams, Worshipful Mayor of Cochin.

2. On December 1st, 2008, Thiru. T R Baalu, Honorable Union Minister for Shipping Road Transport and Highway will dedicate the BPT Berth Extension to the nation.

3. Ocean Race Trade Fest, the mega exhibition at the Race Village will be inaugurated on 2nd December 2008.

4. The Race yachts are expected to reach Cochin on 3rd December 2008. A gala welcome ceremony will be held in the evening to welcome them to Cochin.

Shri Vayalar Ravi, Honorable Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs will be the Chief Guest and Shri Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Honorable Minister for Home Affairs and Tourism will be the Guest of Honour at the arrival ceremony.

5. The Race will be flagged off at a colorful ceremony by Smt. Ambika Soni, Honorable Union Minister for Tourism, Govt. of India, along with Shri Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Honorable Tourism Minister, Govt. of Kerala.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Volvo Ocean Race stories and articles for magazines, newspapers, websites

Though Volvo Ocean Race is getting exposure in media, the awareness of the importance of Volvo Ocean Race and how special it's for India seems to be less. I compile this statement from the responses I have got from around 30 publications; I approached with a story idea on Volvo Ocean Race. I had different story ideas for different publications, in accordance with the publication, both in India and abroad, in print and online. Either there is no response from the other end or I get the response: We don't find anything unique in such a race!

At least, I am glad, I have two stories related to Volvo Ocean Race - one was to appear in November issue, now postponed for December issue - it is more of a travelogue about the place while my next assignment is post-event travelogue format story.

The advantage I have over several other freelance writers is I live in Kochi and I am following the race through press releases and interaction with the organizers and PR of race teams since the beginning. I will be visiting the Race Village every day to report events on my blog and for my writing assignment.

Product and service exhibits, Mini-corporate meeting at the Race Village

The pavilions at the Race Village will function to exhibit new products and services. Volvo's pavilion is spread across 1,000 area. They will also showcase their new launch - Volvo XC60. What's more - the invited guests of Volvo, Puma, Ericsson etc. will get a chance to take a test drive.

A large number of mini corporate meetings are expected to take place during the ten-day stopover. The pavilions of the participating teams will be partially open to the public. Specific areas of these pavilions are however, kept aside for business networking.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ericsson 4, the first team to pass the scoring gate at Mauritius.

The term scoring gate, sounds exciting, as it was something the sailors were looking forward to, during the leg two. And they would be doing this again and again till the end of the race. I was equally excited to know the first team to pass the scoring gate.

This happened yesterday when Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael, was the first boat to pass the Mauritius scoring gate at longitudinal 58 degrees east on the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09.
(Photo : Ericsson 4 on November 20th, 2008)

The team passed the line at 03:45 GMT and collected four points. The second team to cross the line was Ericsson 3 at 06:51 and gained 3.5 points.

The press release from Volvo Ocean Race further states, "Green Dragon, on the ropes for the latter part of this leg after breaking their boom, clinched the final podium place at 08:40. Team Russia (09:36) was fourth, Bouwe Bekking’s blue boat (11:40) won the battle of the Telefonica twins, while PUMA was piped for sixth by Telefonica Black (12:25) – by just nine minutes. Delta Lloyd rounded out the order at 13:21."

Bouwe Bekking, Skipper, Telefonica Blue says, "We are still not the quickest in the heavy running conditions, but we could this time control the damage and we are only 60 miles behind first place instead of 600 like in the first leg, after a similar amount of days in the same conditions."

Ian Walker,Skipper, Green Dragon, in his report says, "We hope to start the repair when conditions improve and when the temperature rises a bit for the glue and resin we have onboard to cure. I am not wildly optimistic, but I think the lads are looking forward to the challenge. I just have to stop them cutting the boat up in the process!"

So, what could the fleet expect in the days to come? According to Race Meteorologist, Jennifer Lilly, as the fleet heads north-east over the 24-48 hours "they will be looking forward to a few days of trade wind sailing."

The last few days have been tiring for the sailors. As Andreas Hanakamp, Skipper, Team Russia points out, " Everybody is glad we pointed the bow north as this promises warmer and, finally, drier weather. Being constantly wet and cold is tiring, I must admit. Already the northwest wind we are sailing in feels less chilly than the southwesterly we had for the last few days."

The fleet is heading to India with less than 3,000-nautical miles to cruise to reach Kochi.

Volvo Pavilion under construction

The construction of Volvo Pavilion at the Race Village in Willingdon Island, Kochi is in full swing. Volvo, the main sponsor follows the Volvo Ocean race around the world. In this connection, a hospitality pavilion is set up for Volvo at each stopover destination. The supplier De Boer, erects the temporary Emperor structure, made of wooden and aluminium, before the race reaches its next stopover destination.
The construction work at Race Village under progress, the day my husband and I visited the site on October 12, 2008. (Above & Below. Photo by Resmi Jaimon)
The Race Village at Kochi, as on November 20, 2008. (Photo Credits: Volvo Ocean Race, Cochin organisers)

Getting Personal

The life on board includes their day-to-day activities, apart from managing the cruise. The crew reveal how they feel about their family, how they try to connect with their family, their short stint with family as they stopover at a destination, how good their food was during the stopover or the uneasiness to rely on frozen-dried foods. They further talk about how they lost a voice and is tackling fever or a headache and sometimes, have to face injuries. Needless of the injuries or illness, the crew members together fight to keep themselves going. And it is really tight for them because they have to face all the challenges both the Ocean and their boat has ahead for them!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Leg Two Day 5 Report (Part One)

GREEN DRAGON inspite of three knockdowns is still heading towards the scoring gate. They also have a leaking daggerboard case. Inspite of these, Ian Walker says, they are focusing on sailing fast to the scoring gate than worrying about fixing the broken boom.

ERICSSON 4 damaged a headsail last day, which one of the crew member repaired.

For PUMA, when they had their first break to the longitudinal frames in the bow, two days back, they ended up spending 7 hours and around 56 miles to fix the issue. Faced with a second break to the longitudinal frame, Ken Read says it might take a little longer (probably as long as 24 hours) to fix.

Currently, TEAM RUSSIA, TELEFÓNICA BLUE, ERICSSON 3, TELEFÓNICA BLACK and DELTA LLOYD seem to sailing smoothly, compared to the mishaps the rest of the three teams have faced in the past couple of days.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Green Dragon Suffers as Boom Breaks!

All is not well for all the sailors since they left Cape Town. Minor mishaps were reported from various teams since the team left Cape Town four days back.

A press release, which just reached my inbox, says Ian Walker’s (the only name I am familiar with so far, apart from Bouwe Bekking, Telef`onica Blue) Green Dragon suffered damages. Green Dragon has a broken boom. Ian Walker alerted the Duty Office at race headquarters in Portsmouth at 11:00 GMT Walker via email.

The message from Ian Walker read: "I am sorry to report that we have just broken our boom in a 50-knot Squall. We are in the process of recovering the parts. The situation is under control with no harm or risk to anyone. We are carrying on downwind." Green Dragon was then positioned 39:41.17S , 40:28.73E, 1,500 miles from Mauritius.

The team is evaluating the possibility and the trying to decide on to continue their sail under jury rig to Kochi or head for Mauritius. If they head for Mauritius, they will be in a position to replace their boom.

Two days earlier, Green Dragon’s yacht faced a huge bang, and the result was, the yacht went into a spontaneous Chinese gybe. Ian Walker then wrote, “You might think this is al lright for a boat with such strong Chinese connections but a Chinese gybe is what we all fear most as it is when the boat crash gybes and leaves you on your side with everything including the keel on the wrong side.”

In his entry, he further stated, “As the mainsail hit the weather runners, water started pouring in down below through the ventilation hatches due to the side decks now being underwater, but the boat miraculously turned back the right way, gybed back and righted itself. Everyone’s immediate reaction was that we had broken the rudder, but as it turned out the steering blocks had sheared away down below leaving Neal with no steerage on the weather wheel.”

They had overcome this situation now when they are left with a broken boom

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre finds a place at 'Ocean Race Trade Fest'

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) is to utilize space at Ocean Race Trade Fest, an exhibition of Indian Brands at the Race Village in Kochi, with a special focus on the tale of "Chandrayan." For children and adults alike, VSSC's participation will be an opportunity to information related to Indian space science. The press release says, "Basic information on the functioning of remote sensing satellites, communication satellites, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLV) and Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) along with the history of the Indian space programme will be made available to the people."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

World-class office & facilities at the Race Village in Kochi

After what seemed like a long wait, the days are counting and Willingdon Island is ready to welcome Volvo Ocean Race. Cochin Port Trust is giving the finishing touch to the newly constructed World Class Race Office. The authorities have taken extra care to match the international standards.

Cochin Port Trust has built two additional floors in the existing Marine office. Each floor consists of 1,200 sq.m. Situated near BTP Jetty, the first floor provides facilities for Radio and Television uplinking. The IT room will see notable features including several computer points with 10 mbps connection; fully dedicated 40 telephone lines; press conference area and conference room. The second floor is kept aside for 'Ocean Lounge,' a restaurant. Also, there will be a mini corporate meeting hall, Volvo Ocean Race CEO's office, Corporate Public Relations Office and Director’s Office.

As per the press release, Cochin Port Trust spent Rs.1.10 Crore to build the first and second floor and another Rs.55 lakhs for furniture and additional facilities.

Leg Two Report - 1

Reports from Leg Two have started reaching my inbox. However, my lack of knowledge and awareness of sailing and Volvo Ocean Race forces me to stay away from discussing the details mentioned in the latest reports. In brief, the latest press release mentions "But, it is a perplexing time for the skippers and navigators: whether to go further south and into the stronger breeze for maximum scoring gate points, or stay further north, in lighter conditions but closer to the finish." As long as one doesn't understand the do's and dont's and what it makes to win the race or score points, such a note and its explanation in the report doesn't make sense! All I could sum up from the reports is the eight teams are spread across a north/south divide. And the distance between this north/south divide is under 40 nautical miles.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Crew List for Leg Two - 2008-2009

Volvo Ocean Race organisers release the list of crew members in leg two, ie during the sail from Cape Town to Kochi. View the list.

If you are looking for a country-wise list of crewmen, here's another list.

Interactive Experience at the Race Village

An exciting news for those preparing to visit the Volvo Ocean Race village at Kochi is that, you have the chance for an interactive Volvo ocean race experience. The interactive programme will comprise of the ride, the dome, the pool and the grinding challenge. Now, you have a chance to answer some of your questions - ie; how life is at sea on Volvo Open 70 in extreme conditions (Stimulator); how physically demanding the boats can be (Grinding challenge); cinematic representation of life in the sea during the race (Dome) and the strategic model of an in-port race (Pool).

Life on the board

Life during the race is beyond the imaginable for the ordinary! The sailors race day and night and count on freeze-dried food. They encounter climatic variations and the temperature ranges from -5 to +40 degree celsius. The sailors hardly sleep. They face possible dangers such as gales and storms, ice bergs, ocean debris and the whales. And the longest time they have to be on sea at a stretch is 35 days. Life on board is the same for 88 crewman across eight yachts. Yet they carry on with a vision - to win the race. Or they do have any other vision or reason to be a part of such arduous race?

In one of the media releases on 14.10.08, Andreas Hanakamp - skipper, TELEFÓNICA BLUE says, "Some kind of a race routine has already settled in. There is a constant change of faces on deck. Every two hours two guys are coming up while two go down, eat and go into their bunk. The four guys on deck are sailing the boat, one helming, two trimming and one grinding. Wouter and I run our own watch, navigating and helping with maneuvers, whereas Wouter digs more into weather analysis and I do a share of driving."

Would you take the initiative to be a part of such a race team, and a challenging life for nine months? We certainly have a reason to say good words and praise the crewman in the race team.

Volvo Ocean Race leaves for India

The talk about the wind and the likely breeze was finally laid to rest, when at 4.30 pm (Indian time) today, the race team bid goodbye to Cape Town, South Africa to head towards Cochin, India. Fortunately, the wind was below five knots/hour, which as I understand was favorable for the sailors. The report from Volvo Ocean Race also says the weather was "perfect for a re-start." For the past one week, Cape Town was encountering heavy wind. One of the teams, Green Dragon was waiting to fix the last minute trouble. They were lucky enough to get the new spreader last midnight and be ready with other seven teams for the perfect start.

The 17 days ahead is likely to be exciting and I am looking forward to read regular notes from each race team. Their first leg was full of exciting notes, on their encounters at the sea. It also gave me a rough idea of the race life.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Challenges await the race team in leg two

In the leg two of the Volvo Ocean race, starting from Cape Town on Saturday, the race team is open to various threats. According to the International organizers, “As it stands, the areas of most concern are the waters off the coast of Somalia, the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, the stretch of water between west Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra that will come into play on leg three.” The race will pass through areas where there is the history of piracy incidents.

In leg two, the racers are apprehensive of the high water traffic, on their way to Kochi, India. They are worried off hitting the small boats, which are hardly noticeable. They also fear if this will be a hindrance to their sailing, as the number of fishing boats in numerous as to walk from coast to coast on them, according to a press release.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Stopover event and entertainment at the Race Village, Kochi

Much said about the Kochi stopover. So, what's in store for the race teams and the visitors at the Race Village in Kochi?

The organisers have planned a series of entertainment events to accompany the stop over. The good news is visitors are free to enter the race village. However, the authorities say there will be strict security. As a part of this, Visitors will not be allowed to carry packets, bags, briefcases and so on. Not enough a reason to put you or me out from visiting the race village, as this is what I believe is once-in-a-life-time opportunity. We never know, when next Kochi will get the opportunity to host Volvo Ocean Race stop over!

Back to the discussion on entertainment programmes; the team will get a formal welcome on December 3rd. The best opportunity to showcase Kerala culture and promote tourism. According to a press release, the following is the list of events to be staged between December 3 and 13.

  1. Keraleeyam, an entertainment show will steal the show with 45 traditional artists performing Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Theyyam, Kalarippayattu, Thiruvathirakali etc.
  2. Be ready to witness a min-Thrissur pooram.
  3. There will be peformances of chenda-violin fusion, fusion music, Arabanamuttu, Kolkali and Margamkali.
  4. Intercollegiate fashion show on Kerala clothing evolution.
  5. Cultural performances by Students, Quiz programme and Naval Band.
  6. Western Music Competition
  7. Cochin-Kavarathi offshore race will be flagged off during the ceremony.
  8. There will be both snake boat race in Ernakulam channel and sail boat race in Mattanchery channel.
  9. There will be a food carnival, Para gliding show, Acro Air Show, Trade fair, exhibition by Volvo Group, Erricson and Puma.

For regional, national and international audience, here's an opportunity to witness a range of entertainment programmes across ten days. If you are a tourist visiting Kerala during December, make sure you visit the Race Village for atleast a day.

Volvo Ocean Race gets ready to leave Cape Town for Kochi, India

For the first time in Asia, Volvo Ocean Race is stopping over at Kochi from December 3-13. The event is jointly organised by Kerala Tourism Department, Govt. of Kerala and Cochin Port Trust. The racing fleet will flag off from Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday.

The team will cover 4,450 miles to reach Kochi on December 3rd. According to the press release, the sail will take 18 days to reach Kochi, India. The route is new to all the eight teams. In the history of sailing competition, this would be the first time a professional sailing competition is taking the new route, referred to as the 'unknown' for the sailors of the race.

And as the team gets ready to leave Cape Town, sports enthusiasts, the domestic crowd and the organisers are eagerly looking forward for the mega-event to touch the shores of Kochi!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Volvo Ocean Race - An Introduction

The first question, I get from curious readers, friends and editors is what's Volvo Ocean Race? Volvo Ocean Race, said to be the best among the sailing competitions in the world is coined as the toughest in the adventure sporting event. The racing teams are put through extreme pressure and probable threats during their sailing.

From the press releases I've been following - the direct accounts of what the sailors go through, Volvo Ocean Race is the toughest yacth-racing event in the world history.

The story of the volvo Ocean Race began 35 years back. We are currently witnessing, the 10th such running, which began in October 2008 and will cover 37,000 nautical miles before reaching its finishing point in June 2009.
More about the racing teams and Kochi stopover, in my subsequent posts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Quick Self Introduction

Before I discuss Volvo Ocean Race further, let me give my brief introduction, though it's mentioned in my blog profile.

I live and work as a freelance writer from Kochi, where the Volvo Ocean Race is reaching for the first time in Asia! It's a matter of pride to know Kerala Tourism, Govt. of Kerala and Cochin Port Trust worked together to acheive, what one could call as a great feat for India!

Till about a month back, I had no idea about this major sporting event. As I visited the official site of Volvo Ocean Race, I found this as the best opportunity to take my career a step further. My efforts did work out and I got the chance to write for a major publication about Volvo Ocean Race (Kochi). I am also working on two more stories and looking for more assignments - preferably post-event, as I already have three pre-event assignments! The details will be updated in my work blog.

On October 12, 2008, my husband and I also got the opportunity to visit the Race Village site at Willingdon Island, Kochi. The construction is going on in full swing and is expected to be over by Mid-November.

Since last one week, I am reading as much as I can about the Volvo Ocean Race, including the press releases. This has helped me to know more about the life at the sea, as the teams race in the rough sea, beating the odds. And their efforts will have a final say when they finish the race in June 2009, nine months after the race started.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Volvo Ocean Race to stop at Kochi!

Welcome to the land of Kochi, where Volvo Ocean Race will stop in Asia for the first time. Though this blog is dedicated to news and events to take place during the ten day stopover between December 3-13, I also intend to update with other news related to Volvo Ocean Race as well as about Kerala, particularly Kochi, occassionally.