Saturday, 7 March 2009

VOR: TELEFONICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 20 QFB: received 05.03.09 22:48 GMT

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

We were ripping along, making great speeds in 15 knots of breeze, when all of sudden a loud bang was heard from the rig. My first instinct was to look up, and saw immediately that the mast was still in one piece, and a fraction late, the headsail dropped in the water.

Forestay broken. It was around 06:30 in the morning, Jono [Swain] was driving, and his quick reaction to bear away saved the rig. Immediately we put some halyards on the bow, to stabilize the rig, as it was sweeping like a spaghetti pole.

We didn’t have to wake up the other guys, as they all had run up. First thing was to get the big jib out of the water, which was huge effort as it was filled with thousands of litres of water, but luckily we got it back in one piece. Then we had to get the sail out of the headfoil, which is a carbon fibre piece which slots over the actual forestay. That was easier said than done, but with some brute force that job was finished as well.

In the mean time we were running dead downwind, and working on a system to use the stay again, so at least we had something to jury rig the mast with. We did a rig check and all seems to be all right. In the mean time I had been on the phone with our shore manager, to go over eventual scenario’s, regarding spare pieces. By then I knew that the actual forestay hanger was broken, this is a 30 mm stainless steel piece, and it had snapped right through the middle.

One option was returning to NZL, but with Tom’s [Addis] feedback, the weather slot would have been a bad option time wise, so we decided to carry on. Let’s hope we get some downwind sailing, as there shouldn’t be any problems with that. But tight reaching and upwind will be slow, as we only can hoist a very little jib on separate stay and of course we don’t want to sacrifice the mast in any way.

Everybody is extremely disappointed, but we all having the same fighting spirit. We started well behind, and actually became first on the leader board yesterday, a huge reward for 21 days of working extremely hard. Of course this is a setback, but there is still a long way to go, WE WILL NOT GIVE UP!!!

Volvo Ocean Race

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