Green Dragon breaks boom as conditions turn wild
[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The past 24-hours have been the most testing in the Volvo Ocean Race so far, as the fleet battled high winds and a confused sea on leg two to Cochin in India. The worst effected was the Green Dragon team (Ian Walker/GBR), who broke their boom shortly before 1100 GMT 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 1500 nautical miles from Mauritius (9,41.17S, 40,28.73E ) and are sailing under jury rig.
Ian 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 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,” Read said.
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,” Read said.
Telefonica Blue leads the race after having followed the northern route. Souther Indian Ocean, 18 November 2008. Photo copyright Telefonica
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,” Bouwe 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.
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 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 490 nm, the highest 24-hour run.
The fleet is effectively split in two, 115 nm across a north/south divide, with Telefónica Blue and Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/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.