Thursday, January 22, 2009

Green Dragon breaks forestay but saves mast

[Source: Green Dragon] Whilst in fourth position and approximately 150 miles from the waypoint, Green Dragon sent the following report from onboard

Position: 12,48.74N , 115,57.48E
Speed: 11 knots, Course: 347 deg

“At 0930 GMT whilst lying in 4th position and sailing upwind in 17 knots of wind and a short chop, Green Dragon suffered a broken forestay. Quick reactions by the crew who rapidly eased sheets and secured halyards to the bow prevented the loss of the mast and the team will continue to race to Qingdao. Having carried out a rig check Green Dragon is now progressing under J4 and full mainsail with 176 miles to the gate mark off Luzon and just under 1500 miles to Qingdao. It is unlikely we will be able to fly any other headsails without a headstay, which will impair our speed.

This is a bitter disappointment just when we were fighting back up with the leaders. It was a brand new stay at the start of the race and I have no idea why it should break now, if at all. I think it is the same as many or all the other boats in the fleet. The important thing is that nobody was hurt and thanks to the crew’s reactions we did not break the mast. It is especially disappointing, as we wanted to put up a strong performance on this leg to Qingdao. We will keep sailing as fast as we can without jeopardising the rig. As always we will not give up, however the forecast of gales for the next few days is an obvious concern.”

Ian Walker, Skipper

Ian Walker, Green Dragon skipper, shows broken forestay. South China Sea, 22 January 2009. Photo copyright Guo Chuan / Green Dragon / Volvo Ocean Race

This is a blow to Ian Walker and his crew who have worked so hard to gain valuable miles and stay with the front runners as they approach the way point. At the 1300 GMT report Green Dragon had lost just 7 miles as they were forced to sail downwind to deal with the forestay. But the leg is far from over, and the latest weather forecast shows that conditions are due to increase to 20 - 30 knots, providing conditions which are ideally suited to sailing under a J4.

Before the incident onboard Green Dragon’s navigator Ian Moore described Green Dragon’s passage through the Spratly Islands last night, you can listen to the interview here

Forestay: The forestay is a piece of standing rigging which helps to keep a mast from falling backwards, this extends from the head of the mast to the bowsprit.

J4: A small upwind sail designed for sailing in 20 plus knots , that sets on an inner forestay.

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