Friday, 6 March 2009

VOR: TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG FIVE DAY 20 QFB: received 05.03.09 0800 GMT

by Bouwe Bekking (skipper)

Some very mixed feelings onboard of Telefónica Blue. First the dramatic weather change and the threat of the high pressure system moving very far south, basically blocking the strong westerlies wind.

Worse, this means sailing upwind for at least another 1000 miles. Still we were very keen to be the southernmost boat, and we made very good progress, which is a nice surprise. Why? Since 36 hours ago, our bottom part of the mainsail is completely delaminated. The sail has Kevlar strings running over all the loading points, which are covered by a Mylar film, which basically is preventing the breeze blowing through. Now that Mylar film has disintegrated, and is not attached to Kevlar any more and big holes have appeared in the mainsail. It looked more or less as if 10 men had emptied their guns with our main as a target.

So since yesterday we have been sailing with one reef in the main, not ideal, but what else can we do. This morning when the wind dropped a little, the repair forces have to come out. Jordi (Jordi Calafat/ESP) as the leading sailmaker, wanted to do a perfect job, but the more he looked at the sail, the more evitable it became that the job was nearly hopeless. So out has come the 5200, a sort of Sikaflex. It is almost bulletproof and has very high glue capabilities and is able to cure under water.

With this Jordi has been trying to stick big panels of Kevlar and Cuben fibre repair material onto the mainsail. Of course that was more boatbuilding than sailmaking so David (David Vera/ESP) came in action. To do the job, we had to lower the main to the third reef and have been sailing like that for about seven hours.

It plays on your nerves as you know you are sailing slow, but you just have to patient, nothing what you can do. Heat blankets had to come out, to help kicking off the 5200 a bit quicker. Now the job is done, just before sunset, but still sailing with one reef, to let the repair job cure more. David’s foul weather gear must be 100% watertight again, as he managed to cover himself in the 5200, and his gear is whiter than their original colour blue.

Now we have to wiggle ourselves over the top of the high pressure system, then tack, it will be very slow progress..............who said we were going to be in Rio in 34 days, was very wrong!!!!! But plenty of food on our fine vessel.

Volvo Ocean Race

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