Tuesday, 24 March 2009

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 38 QFB: received 23.03.09 1042 GMT

David Vera sanding a small pin down to the correct size, onboard Telefonica Blue, on leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro. Image copyright Gabriele Olivo/Telefonica Blue/Volvo Ocean Race.

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

The ‘road’ has been incredible bumpy overnight. Waves are coming directly from the direction we are aiming at, and even though they are not massive, they make us pound all the time.

We heard some strange noises coming from the rig last night, so made another d-tour and send David (David Vera) up for another ascent to the top. Maybe we are a bit paranoid, but we have come a long way, and we are not going to take any chances. In the meantime we are preparing a big repair day today, as the wind will slacken off and hopefully the waves will get smaller as well. Above all, it will be dry and warm, meaning it is the first opportunity we can glue something on the rig.

We are planning to build a complete new checkstay arrangement. These were the pieces of rigging which came tumbling down a few days ago, and which are necessary to prevent over bending (or worse, breaking) of the mast in the middle section. A piece of threaded rod has already been thickened up with carbon fibre to the right diameter, which we will stick through the rig and bolt on. From that rod we can than hang the checks off.

As well we have rebuilt a big carbon cover plate which we will glue so–called spa-bond (an epoxy glue) to the rig to give extra support to the pin and the mast wall. Normally you can see loads up to three tons on this piece of rigging, so better be safe. Still we keep the emergency checks in place, as they have done a good job, and that way will have a good back-up.

Of course we are following the progress of the other boats closely, and I can imagine how stressed they all will be, as they have to face incredibly difficult conditions. Big losses and gains are not very good for the heart rate. Even though we are far behind Green Dragon, I think they are not 100 % comfortable as we are over 400 miles apart. A different weather pattern where we are, plus they know they have more bad current against them, will make them probably feel just a bit uncomfortable.

Volvo Ocean Race

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