Team Philips returns to DartmouthTeam Philips returned from her sea trials on Friday morning, having discovered a problem with excessive movement at the base of the port mast. The crew stabilised the situation in the English Channel, and then had a good look at the rig. The lower bearing appears to be the problem and the inspection revealed enough for Pete Goss to turn the boat around and head for Dartmouth at eight knots.
The freestanding rigs on Team Philips mean that the only place the mast is connected to the boat is the base. And any problem with the lower bearing that allows the rig to rotate to the most efficient angle for that point of sail would be major, with the loss of the rig a very real prospect. The loads on the bearing must be phenomenal, but in theory this part of the boat was thoroughly tested during the rebuild of the port bow.
The team had put up one of the rigs in the yard, fixed - presumably by these same bearings - onto a concrete base. The idea being that they could test sails and trim without having the boat under them. That analysis should have pointed up any fundamental problems. But until the mast is out and the experts have had a good look, all this is idle speculation. The team have a crane booked for Saturday morning. We'll know the diagnosis soon enough.