OUR arrival into Galway for the finish of leg seven at 3.0am on Sunday was, without doubt, the best we've experienced so far.
And the fact we finished the leg into our home port in third place, gaining crucial extra points over Ericsson 3, and managed to keep Telefonica Black behind, added to the sense of satisfaction.
It was totally overwhelming to see so many spectator boats out into the bay to greet us. The harbour was also packed with boats, while the Aran Islands were lit by blazing beacons.
As we sailed closer and closer into the bay, there were more and more boats -- so many in fact it became quite tricky getting to the finish line, close reaching with the kite up. Trying to drop the kite safely was also quite interesting.
It's been a long time since I last sailed into Galway and this was the first time I've raced into Ireland in a race of this scale, and on an Irish boat, so it was all fairly emotional.
The race village was so alive for that hour of the morning. We were really shocked to see just how many people had made such a special effort to come to the dockside to greet us. It was truly amazing.
As far as the racing went, it was probably one of our most enjoyable and strongest performances so far.
After a fairly difficult first section from Boston, where the visibility was so bad it was very easy to lose touch with the fleet and probably contributed to us losing a few miles on Telefonica Black, we stepped up a pace.
In the breezy conditions after the ice gate, we really came into our own as a team. We felt we could really push the boat hard and I think ultimately that's what made a difference.
Ian's (Walker) decision to slip in a few really good gybes on the way across was pretty crucial in giving us the leverage we needed to get ahead of Telefonica Blue and have a really good battle into Galway with Puma.
We were neck and neck with Puma for the last section, swapping second and third constantly but they eventually pipped us to the post.
We managed to wreck our Code Zero (heavy air downwind sail) so I suppose you could say that contributed to not being able to really hold off Puma, but who really knows? Puma had their own problems when they had to replace a rudder in the Atlantic so, it's really difficult to pinpoint any particular reason.
All I can say is that it was one of the most amazing finishes and we finished where we had hoped we would on this leg -- given the fast downwind conditions.
Having stepped ashore on Sunday morning, the first thing we did was head off for a pint of Guinness and a good Irish breakfast in celebration of the fact that we'd completed a circumnavigation and to reflect on the time we've spent together as a crew aboard Green Dragon. What a great group of guys.
I think the fact that we are all still happy to be sailing together after being away for such a long time proves how strong we are as a team. We wouldn't change it for the world and, if we had to, we'd do it all over again.
Relaxed and exhausted, we then managed to catch up with a few hours of valuable sleep before getting straight into boat preparation mode once again for the Galway in-port race on Saturday. There could be a fair amount of breeze next weekend and that would make for really good racing here in Galway Bay. The extra breeze in the bay could create handling difficulties and, hopefully, that will be to our advantage.
There's a lot going on here in the Race Village and it's really worth popping along to see all the action. See you down there.
For more information visit
letsdoitgalway.com and galwayvolvooceanrace.com
Shanghai International F1 Circuit
Yining Road 2000
The Shanghai International Circuit is situated in the district of Jiading near Shanghai. In common with many other new
Formula One circuits, it was designed by Hermann Tilke, and also features his trademark track feature: a long back straight
followed by a hairpin turn. Current-generation F1 cars can easily surpass 300 km/h (186 mph) on the long straight between
corners 13 and 14. The track layout also resembles the Chinese character shang (上) the first word in the name of the city
Shanghai, meaning "above" or "ascend". One lap lasts 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles). The whole circuit plus seating areas and
other areas for spectators, covers a total area of 5.3 km².
Zhuhai International Circuit
The Zhuhai International Circuit [ZIC] was completed in November 1996. This 4.3kms long course offers challenging corners
for spectacular overtaking maneuvers. The clockwise direction circuit has 4 left turns, 10 right turns, and 2 straights of 900m
and 500m each. The 900 metre long main straight, as well as another straight in excess of 500 metres followed by sweeping
corners offers a top speed of over 300 kph for certain cars. The main grandstand offers 12,000 covered seats and 50,000
additional seats for general admission. It is equipped with a press centre where it can accommodate up to 200 journalists.
Location: Tangjiawan Town, Northern Region of Zhuhai City
Direction: ZIC is less than a 1.5 hour drive from Guangzhou, a one hour drive from Zhuhai Airport, 30 minute drive from
Macau, or a 30 minute drive from the Jiuzhou Port ferry terminal, where ferry service goes to and from Hong Kong [45
minute ferry from Hong Kong to Zhuhai].
Beijing International Circuit
Goldenport Motor Park
No.1 Goldenport Avenue
Goldenport Park Circuit is a permanent circuit located at Chaoyang District, Beijing, People's Republic of China. The circuit is
3.3km (2.06mi) long in distance with the width between 12m – 20m. It is an FIA Class 4 Homologated Circuit with 2
Grandstands and 25 Pit garages. It holds a round of China Superbike Championship (CSBK) and China Circuit
Championship (CCC) for touring cars each race season.
Chengdu International Circuit
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan, in the southwest of China. This ‘City of Abundance’ is the fifth most populous city in China,
with over 100 million residents. It is a city that is known for its magnificent historical features and for being the most important
economic, transportation and communications hub in China. One of the most recognized features of Chengdu has to be its
delectable, spicy hot pot Sichuan food,one of the most outstanding in Chinese cuisines. The Chengdu Goldenport Circuit is
built on farmland and is surrounded by lush green vistas, a perfect setting for the mid-season battle for the Championships.
According to circuit officials, the long front straight (830m) was built on an old runway. With its long straight, wide corners,
and combinations and elevation changes it provides very exciting races. Total circuit length:3.367km.
Track Map [PDF]
Guangdong International Circuit
The Guangdong International Circuit , the newest professional race track in China, is currently under construction and will
be completed in October 2009.