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28 February 2005, 12:39 pm
Whale Hit At 30 Knots
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Orange II©Guilain Grenier

Orange II

Bruno PEYRON called Race Headquarters to announce that the maxi-catamaran Orange II had just had a violent collision with a whale or an orca whilst making between 25 and 30 knots off the Argentinean coast.
It was between 17:00 and 18:00 GMT, when the boat hit a big sea creature, initially with the port daggerboard, then with the rudder. Contacted shortly after 19:00 GMT, PEYRON (FRA) confirmed this double impact, adding that the boat was continuing on course downwind.

The appendages do not seem to be broken and all of them will be carefully tested in two days time, as soon as the weather conditions enable the boat to be brought to a stand still and a diver to be sent under the hull. Contacted by telephone at 19:35 GMT yesterday evening, the skipper of Orange II had the latest information on the incident:

'The two successive impacts were fairly severe. The first one involved the port daggerboard, then just after a second impact with the rudder. The boat is not in danger. There doesn't seem to be any leakage, but from the outside, you can see that some bits of material have come away. There is a vibration coming from the port rudder and for the time being we have the wind on the aft quarter to keep the boat flat and not put pressure on the appendages. We're going to have to slow down and then bring the boat to a stand still as soon as we can, doubtless within the next two days, so as we can send one of the crew down to inspect under the hull. I think we hit a whale or perhaps an orca. We must have cut it in two given the speed we were going... Just goes to show, the race is never over..'

PEYRON, reported on the accident earlier by emial , at 17:45 GMT: 'I did a talk this morning about the dangers behind us and those that still lay ahead, including the most hazardous, the most unpredictable, a collision with a floating object or a whale...And there you go! We've done it...to the max! We were all in the windward cockpit and the boat was going flat out, between 25 and 30 knots, when we felt the impact with the daggerboard and then the rudder... Behind us was the sorry sight of the fin as it flicked up behind the transom! No doubt about it! Initial assessment: daggerboard, apparently intact but certainly damaged. Rudder, more serious... considerable impact on the leading edge...leaks, rudder stock inspections etc underway. ...'

What Next?

Aboard Orange II, the debate is on as to what decisions to make and when? PEYRON is in two minds: 'Remove and repair the rudder? ... possible but how will we get it back on? Finish the record attempt with a single rudder? ... possible but at a reduced pace! It's a shame that it's the port rudder which was hit as three quarters of the round the world is on port tack (with the starboard rudder being more important than the other)... and the final quarter of our voyage must be raced on starboard tack, that means with the port rudder!'

Orange II Media (as amended by ISAF), Image: © Guilain Grenier
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