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Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race
By Riath Al-Samarrai

Green Dragon stands out as a team that’s punching way above their weight...I’m looking forward to sailing with their very talented crew.

Wouter Verbraak has a degree in meteorology, but not even he could have forecast the circumstances that gave him Ian Moore's seat in the navigation station on board Green Dragon for leg five.

He always knew he would be sailing the 12,300-nautical mile marathon: first on the assumption that Team Russia would last beyond Singapore, and then in the belief he would do it on board Delta Lloyd.

Of course, Team Russia ran out of funds and retired from legs four and five, while Delta Lloyd, whom he was due to join in China, have pulled out of the forthcoming stage because of damage sustained on leg four. Cue one last twist: Moore’s wife recently learnt she was pregnant with their second child and he has gone home to be with her.

It led to one late phone call from Dragon skipper Ian Walker and one very confused child.

"My four-year-old son doesn't know what to do," Verbraak explained. "Does he wear a Team Russia t-shirt, a Green Dragon one or a Delta Lloyd one?"

Verbraak himself is only marginally less perplexed by a turn of events that will see him sail one leg for Green Dragon, before joining Delta Lloyd for the remainder of the race.

"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster ever since I left Team Russia in Singapore," he said. "I had a call to do Singapore to China with Team Delta Lloyd but I already had commitments to sail a maxi from Cape Town to Bahia. Then, when I was ready to go to China (to join Delta Lloyd for leg five) I got a call to say the boat was broken.

"Then I got a midnight call from Ian Walker saying, 'we need a navigator and I hear you are available?'"

The Dutchman picked up the phone and found out.

"As soon as Ian Walker called the first thing I said was 'I want to deal with this in a proper manner and not jump ship from one to the other without the consent of Tom Touber', our team manager at Delta Lloyd. He said to 'go ahead and do it because it is a great opportunity. You will learn a great deal in this leg and can take the experience to Delta Lloyd'."

The 33-year-old cannot wait for a trip that he started planning a year ago, way back when his team colours were yellow and blue, not green and white.

"It should be great," he said. "Green Dragon stands out as a team that's punching way above their weight with their limited time and resources. They have impressed everyone in the fleet. I'm looking forward to sailing with their very talented crew."

And if all else fails, he should be able to give a good overview of the fleet.

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Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

Wouter Verbraak joins Green Dragon as navigator in Qingdao ahead of leg five.