Sunday, November 23, 2008

Telefonica Blue suffers damage

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Just when everything seemed to be going right for Bouwe Bekking and his men on Telefónica Blue, it all went wrong again. The boat was loving the conditions, the crew were pushing hard, and slowly, but surely, climbing back up the leaderboard, when the crew heard a big bang, and everything changed.

“We snapped one of our daggerboards, the boards which prevent the boat from slipping sideways,” explained skipper Bouwe Bekking. “We destroyed it and had to stop the boat for 45 minutes,” he said. Even worse for the crew, the little speed they were able to do, was on the wrong tack and sailing away from the finish in India and they lost 10 precious miles.

The crew found hammers, chisels and hacksaws to try and cut the board free, but, in the end, Pepe Ribes from Spain was lowered into the water to get rid of all the bits and pieces so that the board could be raised again.

The team is underway again, but sailing much slower than they would like. The good news is that Laurent Pages from France, who was injured in the big weather last week when he was washed down the boat, is back up on deck and even trimming the mainsail.

“You can’t stop him,” says Bekking. “He [Laurent] was getting very, very bored, so we have given him this joy, as the conditions are not too bad.” The crew have braced Pages between two spinnakers and made a little stand to lock his feet in to. His injured arm is hanging limply beside his body and he is still unable use it.

The jury is clearly out on Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR) as to whether the crew should attempt to repair their broken boom or not. Skipper Ian Walker says the boat is still going well with no boom.

“When we have the mainsail set up, it looks good. The problems are when we need to react quickly to shifts of gusts as have about four sheets hanging off it.” He says repairing the boom could be more of a distraction, especially as even with the repair, it will far from 100 percent.

Meanwhile, Tom Braidwood/AUS and Damien Foxall/IRL have been busy fixing other things, including water leaking badly through the glue joining the port daggerboard. While they were making the repair, the steering sheave, which prevents the boat from Chinese gybing, came off.

Braidwood assessed the damage and decided on stopping the leak first, as the team was able to steer with the leeward wheel. Braidwood is in the mood for repairs and is keen to have the challenge of repairing the boom, but he is waiting for Ian Walker to give him the go ahead. If the repair is attempted, Braidwood says it will be from a combination of mainsail battens, glue, carbon and anything else he can find. He says it will look ugly, but if it works, he will be very happy.

Meanwhile, the Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT) crew was unfortunate enough to catch about seven metres of heavy, arm-thick rope around the port rudder, which stalled the boat and slowed it down.

The fleet is all beam reaching towards the finish in Cochin, India, and is in, or almost into the tradewinds



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