Sunday, November 6, 2011

Drama, Drama, Drama in the Volvo Ocean Race

Disaster has struck less than twenty-four hours into the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante to Cape Town and one third of the fleet have had to suspend racing.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race 
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing entry Azzam, suffered a broken mast just 85 miles from the start line and have returned to base here in Alicante while Team Sanya endured serious hull damage a further 115 miles into the race.  They reported winds blowing 43 plus knots and the waves were around 10.5 metres.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race 
A replacement mast has arrived here at the team’s base and is expected to be rigged in the next 24 hours by the shore crew. While Team Sanya, are in Puerto Motril having the damage to their hull assessed before working on a recovery plan.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race 
“Just came off a huge wave. I could tell you, I knew there was going to be problems because my feet left the deck. So the boat was just falling and when we landed the mast kept going. It’s hard to say how upset we are really, it’s been like 16 months of work and 4 or 5 hours into the race the whole thing falls down around us,” said Ian Walker, Skipper, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

It’s a major blow to both the Volvo Ocean race and the two teams who are competing in the race for the first time.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race 
In a graphic demonstration of the problems all the boats were facing, an interview filmed on board CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand with Roberto “Chuny” Bermúdez resulted in the Spaniard being knocked down and slammed across deck.

“The Mediterranean sometimes gets like this but the boat is going fine,” he said in the interview, just as he was knocked off his feet. Unscathed, he continued the interview below deck with a band-aid on his chin.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race 
Abu Dhabi left Alicante on top of the leaderboard having won the opening Iberdrola In-Port Race and were challenging for the lead when the disaster struck at 1915 UTC on Saturday night, approximately 30 miles south west of Cartagena, Spain.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race 
The crew recovered the rig and motored back to Alicante before commencing a round-the-clock repair job this morning.

Among the other four boats, CAMPER remains in the lead as they bear down on the Straits of Gibraltar with Telefonica, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by Berg and Groupama sailing team all in close pursuit. Only 10 nautical miles currently separates the fleet.

Lulu Roseman

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