The real deal

Nu börjar Volvo Ocean Race bli på riktigt. Massor av trasiga segel och sjuka besättningar, Green Dragon bröt bommen och Puma fick sprickor i förskeppet. Kanske lika bra att de kan svänga vänster mot lugnare vatten inom kort…

In a short email, skipper Ian Walker/GBR said, “I am sorry to report that we have just broken our boom in a 50-knot squall. We are in the process of recovering the parts. The situation is under control with no harm or risk to anyone. We are carrying on downwind.”

PUMA LEG TWO DAY 4 QFB: received 18.11.08 1057 GMT

Not to sound like I am whinging, but I think I will anyway.

Last night sucked. OR it was great –if you are a boat builder or a sailmaker looking for work. Yikes. The proverbial ‘you know what’ hit the fan when we got about as vertical in a sailboat as you ever want to be going down a big dark wave that sort of snuck up on us. And, when going straight down a big wave the inevitable bow crash is coming into the wave in front. But this time was different. Not only did the bow crash into the wave but the prod, the bow pulpit and about 15 feet up the Asymmetric Spinnaker we had up at the time. Bang. Spinnaker in many pieces and a long night for Justin Ferris.

Fortunately, we had the broken sail down and a new sail up in about 10 minutes. And we tweaked our angle and were going faster so all good right?

Wrong.

About an hour later after a watch change, we found another beauty of a wave except this one had no face in front of it and —whoosh. Take off! The inevitable silence of a boat that feels like it is literally flying, followed up with a massive SMASH into the not very soft Indian Ocean. But this one was different from the other 10,872 smashes that have occurred over the past 48 hours or so.

This one had a horrid CRACK along with it. I was working with Justin on the sail at the time and had on my headlamp and ran to the bow to quickly find several cracks in our longitudinal frames in the bow section. And, for those laymen out there, essentially these frames are the spine of the boat, which doesn’t allow it to fold in half. And they also don’t allow the bow to cave in when we hit waves. Kind of important piece to the puzzle.

Well, we are better now. Seven hours later. Bow repaired thanks to Casey Smith and Mickey Muller, and the kite back in one piece thanks to Justin. All the rest of the team filling in with sailing duties and helping repair when asked. Big effort and a feeling of complete exhaustion as well as satisfaction that we are back in the game and going full speed again.

Distance lost is always painful, but I think it could have been much worse.

We are still in the hunt and thanks to the effort of all the boys, we are whole again. We aren’t exactly in the position we want to be on the racetrack any more, but time will only tell how much it costs us. I figure it cost us only about 30 miles on the racetrack.

Another painful part of this escapade is that we happened to be lit up when everything went pear shaped. Had been the best boat in a few position reports in a row and were feeling really good about our spot on the track. Oh well, part of life.

So I am looking for anything lucky at this point to kill the breakdown curse. Brought out my lucky rock, looking for a lucky dolphin to escort us and there is a lucky albatross that has been following us for about two hours. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a lucky albatross but I just invented it so it must be true. Very cool.

So my whinge is over. Sorry you had to be a part of it. I feel better getting it off my chest. The competitive side of all of us HATES to lose miles..

Time to try and make them back up.

Ken Read – skipper

1 Comment

  1. Author
    Peter Gustafsson Nov 19, 2008 Reply

    Ännu värre saker på Puma.

    PUMA LEG TWO DAY 5 QFB: received 19.11.08 0743 GMT

    Greetings from the monster hospital ward. And the hospital is not necessary humans. Just for our beautiful boat.

    At 0430 GMT this morning, we flew off yet another nice little wave and came down to another loud crack. This time not from the bow section, but in the main section of the boat. Just behind the keel frame. Three of us were having breakfast at the time and there was a bit of a stare into each other’s eyes.

    “That didn’t sound good,” said Justin (Justin Ferris/NZL).

    “Nope,” I said.

    Nico (Chris Nicholson/AUS) added, “maybe it was just an unloaded sheet snapping up on deck?”

    Justin looked down and said: “or maybe it was this large crack splitting the main longitudinal frame?” The master of understatement, old Justin is.

    So we are busted. Again. This time a bit more serious. After final analysis on the first break to the longitudinal frames in the bow a couple days ago, it took 7 hours and about 56 miles to fix. Sounded like quite a bit at the time, but we had enough pace to keep up with the leaders after the fact, and still were in a reasonable position for the scoring gate and the leg.

    This one may be a bit tougher to work around though. Not only is this break in the central structure for the entire boat, but it will take quite a bit longer to put a fix on- maybe as long as 24 hours – and this time the actual fix may be a bit more of a band-aid rather than the fairly solid splint that we could put on the broken front longitudinals.

    If the fix takes as long as we think, we have to re-route to Cochin. Missing most of the points that we could have gotten at the scoring gate and having to bypass the next low coming our way. Simply put, this is not good.

    Capey (Andrew Cape/AUS navigator) and I are hard at work trying to see if there is a tactical solution around this in order to stay remotely in the race. We shall see. First priority is the safety of the boat and crew and because of that, we are looking to get away from the next low pressure that is coming in from behind. Which doesn’t give us many options while trying to get through the high pressure to the north.

    The whole reason for riding down into big breeze in the Southern Ocean was to hook up with that second low pressure and getting around the high. With our current situation, we may be forced into the high. If that is the case, it is time to start talking about rationing food!

    Not only is this a bummer for the team, but a letdown for all who have worked on the programme so far. Please understand though, that we have not given up hope onboard. Stranger things have happened. We have thousands of miles to go. And we have the most resourceful guys aboard and on shore trying to figure out the best way to tackle our situation.

    There are a couple of bright spots. It has been reported from the bow area of the boat that using the toilet while going this slow is a much more pleasurable experience. Also, Ricky (Rick Deppe/GBR MCM) got a hot cup of coffee into several of us, which was a very nice treat. Especially considering the fact that for the first time in days, I didn’t spill it on myself or burn the crap out of my mouth.

    And finally, the boys on deck report tons of huge Albatross circling around the boat giving a fantastic show for all.

    Just hope that Albatross are not the vultures of the high seas.

    Will report more soon.

    Ken Read – skipper

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