Volvo Ocean Race: Boat breaking conditions


The fleet has survived the kicking they got last night, only to wake up to a much calmer picture. The issue was an extremely strong wind set against an opposite current flow of 2 knots. This kicked up a short aggressive wave that definitely claimed the title of potentially boat breaking conditions.

“As strong as the carbon fiber is, with every wave it seems hundreds of new noises are heard cracking and groaning with each hit,” reports Matt Knighton on Abu Dhabi. “We’ve had regular delam checks through the hull and every 30 minutes our bow bilge water alarm goes off from a leak we can’t find.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was the first to report backing off a little in the name of boat survival. This leg is far from over but without the unfortunate Dongfeng Race Team breathing down their necks, it’s imperative that they finish the leg; it’s not essential that they win it.

“All day we had only our J3 up and 3 reefs in the Main,” said Knighton. “No secrets to be kept, that’s the smallest possible sail combination on a Volvo Ocean 65 short of a storm jib. It was that kind of day.”

It’s still too soon to take their foot off the pedal as there are still plenty of points to score or lose before we can see an overall winner. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s mantra has always been to claim a podium place and not to be greedy hunting the win every leg.

Dongfeng, having been tied with Abu Dhabi for the overall, will start their long 1,910 nm motor-sail from Ushuaia to Itajai, leaving tonight and navigating up the Beagle Channel out into the Atlantic Ocean.

They estimate it will take 10 to 12 days. They have beefed up their jury rig with a new metal spreader that they have had fabricated in town and even utilised a borrowed sail from another boat.

They have filled the forward tank with 1,200 liters of gasoline as an insurance policy in case the mast and jury rig fails and they have to motor all the way.

Team SCA continue to make gains as they are now power reaching north east in 30 knots but in comfortable condition then the leaders had. They will be pleased to be making good progress after such trying times back in the latter stages of the Southern Ocean.

Leg 5 (6,776 nm) Position Report (21:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 761.3 nm Distance to Finish
2. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 4.2 nm Distance to Lead
3. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), 8.4 nm DTL
4. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 14.1 nm DTL
5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 656.4 nm DTL
6. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Did not finish
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

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