Monday, 15 December 2008

VOR: TEAM RUSSIA LEG TWO DAY 3 QFB: received 17.11.08 1611 GMT

by Andreas Hanakamp (skipper)

Today was another kind of initiation, we had our first real heavy full on massive flat out big broach.

As we love the bigger breeze we kept going south since yesterday and had steady 30 knots today. The first squall topped out at 38, when Nick (Bubb/GBR) handed over to me, when he was quite happy with the feel of the boat under a reefed main, the A6 spinnaker and the storm jib set as staysail.

He was right, on the wheel the boat felt much better than in the navstation, so we kept going, more aggressive when the breeze was down, conservative when the breeze was up. A cloud line brought the wind up to 42 knots and the speed topped out well over 30 knots and we got ready to drop the kite. By the time we were ready, the breeze had gone down to 35 knots and everything was fine. At the watch change, I handed the wheel over to Stig (Westergaard/DEN) and I went for the grinder to assist Wouter (Verbraak – navigator). As before, we were submerged from time to time when the boat shot through massive waves.

Facing aft on the grinder, I heard Stig screaming ‘we Chinese’ as the boat slowed down almost to a standstill up to the mast in solid green. Then everything went into slow motion, not a violent knock down but the boat slowly turning, heeling more and more over to the 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 breeze. Fate was inexorable, nothing left to be done, but wait for the inevitable. The stack of sails on the aft 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 floatation.

I climbed the vertical deck (as I normally climb rock) to free the runner, Wouter handed me a knife to cut free the lashing, Cam (Camron Wills/RSA) pulling the runner tail and Oleg (Zherebtsov/RUS) grinding it. Meanwhile, Jeremy (Elliot/IRL) and Mikey (Mike Joubert/RSA) managed to get the keel moving to the other side to righten up the boat again.

Once up, the boat accelerated to 15 knots and all on deck got to the foredeck to take town the A6 that had meanwhile wrapped around the headstay. Once this sail had gone inside, we gybed Kosatka back, got the Q9 out of the bag, had another little issue as it unfurled before it should, unreefed the main and were back on track.
Nobody got hurt, only the pulpit is bent and quite ugly, no other damage (Thanks Rob for the strong boat!). Mark (Covell MCM) managed to record some of it on video, so watch this programme in the near future.

Volvo Ocean Race

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