Lisa McDonald and her crew of women finally left Gosport, England, yesterday at 1300 local time, to sail to La Rochelle, France, in preparation for the restart of the Volvo Ocean Race leg eight.
In a race against time, and the elements, work started at 4am yesterday morning, under floodlights, to ensure that the team made a quick getaway, prior to a storm, which was sitting approximately 100 miles off Ireland.
The team has had a frantic and frustrating week, firstly awaiting arrival of their boat by freighter, following their dismasting during leg seven, and then battling against time to get new mast measured and stepped into the boat.
Speaking in Southampton yesterday, skipper Lisa McDonald said, "It's been a day of squalls going through, ships arriving, the boat unloading at the terminal in Southampton, charging round to Gosport, rods (rigging) being raced around the south coast to rig and, ultimately, be measured. We have all the bits and all the crew in the right places and we are ready to step the mast. We're still on schedule at the moment."
Arrangements were made by Peters & May, the official freight co-coordinator to the Volvo Ocean Race, for Amer Sports Too to be carried inside a ship from Halifax, Canada, to Liverpool, UK, rather than sitting her on the deck of the ship in a cradle. Lisa said that although the boat has been through the wars, on the whole, she has travelled incrediblywell. "One of our boat builders has been in charge of ensuring that the boat has been travelled as well as possible. She was actually inside a ship coming across the Atlantic, so she had minimal wear and tear, and the last few days she was on a local coaster coming down the west coast and round the south coast of England, so she's not in too bad a nick to be honest. She saw a little bit of salt spray, but not more than the normal".
The team has been working against the clock to tune the rig and go out for a quick sail to make sure that nothing looks out of the ordinary, before leaving for France as quickly as possible before the weather closes in.
"We're battling Mother Nature at the moment" explained Lisa, adding, "there's a big storm looming off Ireland and we are hoping to get around the corner of Ushant (off the coast of France) before that storm comes through late on Monday".
The mood in the camp is one of determination. "Everyone is really fired up and we are well organized to hit the start line in good shape. We feel like we can do just about anything at the moment. It will be good to get to France in good time to make the necessary repairs to the boat andcarryout the routine maintenance checks that we normally do in stopovers to ensure that we are ready for the start next weekend. We are going to give ourselves the best opportunity to have as much time as possible in La Rochelle."