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Volvo Ocean Race Wrecks…

November 14, 2005

It’s hard to keep up with all the action and carnage. And this is just Day 3. Three boats–Movistar, Pirates, Sunergy–are already heading for port to make repairs (check in with the Volvo web site for all the details). And the rest of the teams are having a rough time, as ABN Amro 2 (the kids boat) clings to the lead. It’s hard to fully capture the speed, fear and flat out power of the boats as this VOR gets underway. But this e-mail from ABN Amro’s Mike Sanderson does a pretty good job:

“We were middle of the pack as we left Vigo Harbor, but as the breeze built and we ended up with around 20 to 25 knots broad reaching. By the second position report we had worked “Black Betty” into the lead, it all seemed to be going nice and smoothly. Then we got hit by a big puff, 37, 38 knots of wind; the boat took off, fully under control, and then there was a loud bang and we did the most massive wipe out.

“Tony (Mutter) and Jan (Dekker) got swept along the cockpit with so much force that they took out the leeward steering wheel, steering pedestal and the safety frame that is around the wheel…..

“As if that wasn’t bad enough, we just couldn’t seem to get the bow down so that we could roll up the gennaker. We tried to roll it with the boat still on its side, but the wind speed was just too great. It was then that we realized that our problems were in fact bigger then we thought. We had broken the tiller arm on the port rudder, this is the link between the rudder stock and the steering system, so basically we had lost steerage from the rudder that was in the water. Eventually we managed to roll up the sail and the boat came back downwind miraculously, just using the tip of the windward rudder. Once downwind and with the windward rudder firmly in the water we were able to re-group…

“Our first job was to get the emergency rudder in place so that we could steer the boat, then set about fixing the tiller arm. After much head scratching we did it with long bits of threaded rod and good old spectra lashing… now we are back up to 90 per cent speed and our plan is to try and hang on to the pack as well as possible until we can get on the other gybe and have another go at the repair with more time so that we can push on starboard tack at 100 per cent.

“Just got called up half way through writing this with a 46 knot squall!!! Am just now back in the nav station, four hours later after getting the reacher down, getting it packed and stacked, getting the new sail up and then frantically bailing out the back of the boat, where we have a hole in the deck where the steering pedestal has ripped off… This is seriously hardcore…

“Just heard about Movistar and the Pirates, I hope they stay safe first and foremost.

“Okay that’s about it from me, the young fellas are doing a fantastic job at the front of the fleet in ABN AMRO TWO. For now, more than happy to leave them there and just keep this baby in one piece and under 30 knots…”

It makes you wonder how many of these machines will find Cape Town in one piece…

“Harrr! Err, oops. Umm, Paul, do we have hotel reservations yet?”

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