The past 24-hours have been the most testing in the Volvo Ocean Race so far, with Green Dragon breaking her boom as the fleet battled high winds and a confused sea on leg two to Cochin in India,.
The Irish/Chinese entry Green Dragon broke their boom shortly before 11:00 UTC this morning. This came after they survived a spectacular Chinese gybe yesterday.
In a short email, skipper Ian WALKER
(GBR) said, "I am sorry to report that we have just broken our boom in a 50-knot squall. We are in the process of recovering the parts. The situation is under control with no harm or risk to anyone. We are carrying on downwind."
The crew is all safe and unhurt and in contact with their shore team. They are currently 1,500 nautical miles from Mauritius (9,41.17S, 40,28.73E ) and are sailing under jury rig. WALKER says that the notorious Agulhas Current snakes around like a giant serpent, and with every twist, it throws up either a good or bad current and an ever-changing sea state. Throughout the fleet, destruction has been rife.
PUMA, Ken READ
's (USA) red and black boat, has been another casualty. He says wryly that last night would have been great if you were a sailmaker or a boatbuilder looking for work. After blowing their asymmetric spinnaker into pieces, an hour later the boat took off.
"We found another beauty of a wave, except this one had no face in front of it and… whoosh… take off! The inevitable silence of a boat that feels like it is literally flying was followed by a massive smash into the not very soft Indian Ocean. But this one was different from the other 10,872 smashes that have occurred over the past 48 hours or so.
"This one had a horrid CRACK along with it. I ran to the bow to quickly find several cracks in our longitudinal frames in the bow section. Essentially, these frames are the spine of the boat, which doesn't allow it to fold in half. And they also don't allow the boat to cave in when we hit waves. Kind of important piece to the puzzle,"
Seven hours later, and the bow has been repaired onboard, and the spinnaker has been patched back together. "Big effort and a feeling of complete exhaustion as well as satisfaction that we are back in the game and going full speed again,"
Further back in the fleet, Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING
/NED) blew out a spinnaker. Not unusual in itself but the crew is suffering from sickness onboard and repairing the damaged sail down below in huge seas was a big challenge; Daryl WISLANG
(NZL) and Jordi CALAFAT
(ESP) needed one hand for the spinnaker and the other hand for the bucket they were throwing up into. "Shows how strong a character they have,"
BEKKING said. Today, the spinnaker was still in bits and will take another 10 hours to fix.
Onboard Team Russia, the crew suffered their first 'real, heavy, full-on massive flat-out broach'. "The boat slowed down almost to a standstill, up to the mast in solid green water. Then, everything went into slow motion. Not a violent knock down, but the boat slowly turning, heeling more and more to wrong side, the boom high up in the air until coming over, and the kite flying around the forestay to the new leeward side and flapping in the 35 knots of breeze. Fate was inexorable, nothing left to be done, but wait for the inevitable," describes skipper Andreas HANAKAMP (AUT).
The stack of sails on the after starboard corner of the boat was under water, the starboard spreader camera as well as the keel, and the sails were holding the boat on 90 degrees to its designed flotation. HANAKAMP climbed the vertical deck, as you would normally climb a rock, to free the runner. Wouter VERBRAAK (NED), the navigator, handed him a knife to cut free the lashing. Cameron WILLS (RSA) pulled the runner tail with Oleg ZHEREBTSOV (RUS) grinding it. Meanwhile, Jeremy ELLIOTT (IRL) and Mikey JOUBERT (RSA) managed to get the keel moving to the other side to right the boat. Luckily, none of the crew was hurt and only the pulpit was bent. There was no other damage.
In spite of the confused sea state, boat speeds hover around the 20-knot mark, with Ericsson 4 achieving 490nm, the highest 24-hour run.
The fleet is effectively split in two, 115nm across a north/south divide, with Telefónica Blue and Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP), PUMA and Delta Lloyd (Roberto BERMUDEZ/ESP) in the north, and Team Russia, Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER/SWE), Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL/BRA) and Green Dragon in the south.
Leg Two Day Four: 13:00 UTC Volvo Ocean Race Positions
(boat name/country/skipper/nationality/distance to finish)
Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe BEKKING/NED) DTF 3513 nm
PUMA Racing Team USA (Ken READ/USA) +0
Telefónica Black ESP (Fernando ECHAVARRI/ESP) +15
Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders LEWANDER/SWE) +20
Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben GRAEL/BRA) +28
Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian WALKER/GBR) +41
Delta Lloyd IRL (Roberto BERMUDEZ/ESP) +80
Team Russia RUS (Andreas HANAKAMP/AUT) +86
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard
(After Leg One)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 14 points
2. Puma Il Mostro (Ken READ), 13 points
3. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 11 points
4. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING), 10 points
5. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 7 points
6. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 5 points
7. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE), 4 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 4 points
Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvooceanrace.org