Image © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race
Team AkzoNobel is back up to full speed this morning on Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race after having been forced to stop temporarily in mid-ocean yesterday to make running repairs to the yacht’s keel box.
The crew discovered damage to the keel plate – the housing on the bottom of the boat covering the hinge of the canting keel – after spotting water leaking out of the top of the keel box inside the boat.
Bowman Brad Farrand (NZL) – the team’s designated “swimmer of the watch” quickly donned a dry suit and divers’ mask before being lowered over the side of the boat on a halyard to assess the problem.
“There are two covers for the keel box and the front half of our port one has snapped off completely,” Farrand explained after being hauled back aboard.
“There is a great big hole in the bottom of our boat .... so we are going to have to come up with a way to sail the boat that doesn’t push water up inside the boat.”
While the rest of the crew gingerly got the boat sailing again towards Itajaí in light winds caused by the close proximity of the St. Helena high pressure system, boat captain Nicolai Sehested (DEN) consulted by satellite phone with expert technicians from the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard service facility over possible solutions.
After some discussion and deliberation, the sailors decided to try to strengthen the top plate of the keel box by gluing three carbon struts on to it.
“We are expecting to be sailing at 20 or 25 knots of boat speed again today,” explained skipper Simeon Tienpont (NED).” “We took the lid off and resealed it – the pressure inside had blown out the seals – and reinforced it so it doesn’t have too much bend or flex in it.
“I think this is what will get us safely to Itajaí.”
At 0700 UTC today team AkzoNobel was in third positon behind Team Brunel (NED) and Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), travelling at 21 knots (39 kilometers per hour) towards the finish line in Itajaí, with 751 nautical miles (1,390 kilometers) still to race.
Based on the latest weather and performance data the team is expected to complete Leg 7 around 1600 Brasília Time (BRT) 1900 UTC on Tuesday April 3.