Monday, October 13, 2008

Lots of problems for Team Russia

[Source: Team Russia] The departure from Alicante was an unforgettable experience with all the fans of the Volvo Ocean Race and the spectator yachts giving the fleet a fantastic farewell. Alicante was a great place to be and the Spanish enthusiasm for sailing is not only because the King likes the sport. If Alicante wants to host the fleet again for the next race, I will have no objections.

As expected, the level in this race is incredibly high, no easy point to be made. We all will have to fight for every boat length, all around the world. If the fleet stays tight together like in the first 30 hours, the stage is set for a great race the fans should love.

We believed too strongly in our forecast and hoisted the wrong sails at the top mark, seeing the two ERT’s storming away and losing two places on the downwind back to the harbour. After the bottom mark we started to feel more comfortable gaining back lost distance.

Between Tabarca Island and the mainland we hoisted our new Cuben mast top kite for the first time, immediately getting sucked into the lee of the fleet and the bearing to Green Dragon, Delta Lloyd and Telefonica nicely increasing. With the wind in the upper 20s, the speed kept following, lots of spray in the air, mood high, lots of joy.

It was then Nick (Bubb) bringing bad news from down inside. One of our ram boots, the seals that separate the Mediterranean from the inside of the boat had been torn, looking like being chewed up by some huge animal. We had problems with the boots all along, but different kind and believed them to be solved. So not again.

The problem doesn’t mean imminent danger, as the boat is built in a way that the water ingress is manageable in the short term. Just the compartments around the wetbox get flooded and the rams with some electronic bits are flooded. For sure we couldn’t sail like this to Cape Town.

At Cabo de Palos we had to come up a few degrees to avoid a reef and make the Cape. Pressure was building in the huge kite, obviously a bit too much and the great sail gave in right in the middle, one half flying off the top of the mast, the other one just above the water, connected by the leach line only.

All pieces retrieved, nothing lost, even not too wet to start the repair job. Ben (Costello) and Jeremy (Elliott) dug out the sewing machine and got on with the job. Jeremy, who designed the sail, had brought laminated construction charts to facilitate orientation on the sail. It was constant gluing.

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