THE Volvo Ocean Race fleet is winging its way towards Ireland in a gruelling transatlantic leg of the voyage.
But dense fog and light winds created a difficult start for the seven boats as they began their long journey to Galway after leaving Boston at the weekend.
And Ireland's Green Dragon is trailing in last place after becoming entangled in three lobster pots while trying to navigate around Nova Scotia. Last night saw three members of the crew battling to repair damage to the retractable keel, known as the daggerboard.
But skipper Ian Walker remained confident about keeping up with the competition.
"This is a big disappointment as we were in sight of five boats and sailing well. We can only hope we don't lose touch with the fleet and live to fight another day," he said.
Now in the open ocean, the seven boats face a mammoth 2,550-mile Leg 7 before they are expected to reach Galway this Saturday or Sunday.
They will know they are close when they first see the hundreds of bonfires which will be lit along the west coast. But that exact point largely depends on the weather conditions in the mid-Atlantic.
Out there the teams can expect gale-force conditions that could deliver a new 24-hour speed sailing record. However, such conditions carry potential penalties of the worst kind.
Nobody in the sailing community will forget the tragic loss of Hans Horrevoets, the father of two who was swept overboard just 300 miles from land in the last race three years ago.
Last night, Ericsson 3, PUMA and Telefonica Blue were leading the way as the fleet faced into icy territory off Newfoundland.
While trailing yesterday, Green Dragon put on a good show before the thousands of spectators in Boston for Saturday's start off Fan Pier, holding third place on the short demonstration course.
Galway is set to receive a €60m economic boost from the Volvo Ocean Race, as one of only 12 host ports for the competition.
The race started in October 2008 from the Spanish port of Alicante.
By the time it gets to Galway, it will be on the home stretch, before heading for the finishing line in St Petersburg via Sweden.
Just three legs of the 39,000-mile race remain after the Galway stopover.
Meanwhile, photography enthusiasts are being urged to take part in a competition to highlight the West as a hub for creative industry. The Western Development Commission is running the contest in association with Pix.ie.
To take part, people have to upload a photo taken during the Galway Volvo Ocean Race Festival, which runs from May 23 to June 6.
Prizes include top-of-the-range digital cameras to a total value of €1,500.