(Photo Credits : Resmi Jaimon / Date: November 30th, 2008)
Sunday, November 30, 2008
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.
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, 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!
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 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
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
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)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
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
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!
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
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.
The pavilions at the Race Village will function to exhibit new products and services. Volvo's pavilion is spread across 1,000 sq.mtr 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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Sunday, November 16, 2008
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.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
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.
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.
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
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
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.
- Keraleeyam, an entertainment show will steal the show with 45 traditional artists performing Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Theyyam, Kalarippayattu, Thiruvathirakali etc.
- Be ready to witness a min-Thrissur pooram.
- There will be peformances of chenda-violin fusion, fusion music, Arabanamuttu, Kolkali and Margamkali.
- Intercollegiate fashion show on Kerala clothing evolution.
- Cultural performances by Students, Quiz programme and Naval Band.
- Western Music Competition
- Cochin-Kavarathi offshore race will be flagged off during the ceremony.
- There will be both snake boat race in Ernakulam channel and sail boat race in Mattanchery channel.
- 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.
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
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.