Dongfeng Race Team has suffered significant damage after part of the control lines for the masthead gennaker sail broke, but the Chinese boat continues to challenge for Leg 1 victory in the Volvo Ocean Race after pulling off a rapid repair job to retain second place.
The setback happened at 1800 UTC on Sunday when part of the sheeting system snapped and the high loads held in that line were released across the leeward deck, causing significant damage.
There were no injuries but damage to the boat include a broken wheel which will handicap Charles Caudrelier’s crew when they gybe, the push pit (the protective bars at the back of the boat), aft stanchions (the posts on the side of the boat at the back) and a satellite antenna.
Since the boat is loaded with communication kit, the latter issue should not be a major handicap.
The team lost about five miles during the half hour it took to get the sail under control, assess the damage and get back up to full speed.
During that time, the boat speed dropped to around 12 knots from 22 knots.
Syndicate head Mark Turner commented: “The rest of the night, while wet, cold and fast, passed well for our guys and they have maintained second place this morning just eight miles from the leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at sunrise this morning, having retaken a few of the miles lost.”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), Dongfeng and third-placed Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) are powering along at an average of more than 25 knots in the icy Southern Atlantic wind. Just 34 nautical miles (nm) separate the first three boats.
They are approaching 750nm to go before the welcoming sights of Table Mountain, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, and Cape Town finally pass into view after a thrilling opening leg of racing.
Dongfeng Race Team will be particularly relieved to see the port after bouncing back from a broken rudder earlier in the leg, plus this latest setback. The current estimated date for arrival is Thursday (November 6).
At 0630 UTC/GMT today, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) were lying in fifth spot, 142.1nm adrift of the lead, with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) 308nm behind and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) in seventh, trailing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing by 442.6nm.
For more information on the Volvo Ocean Race please visit: www.volvooceanrace.com