The Race - 0830 - 23/1/01
Arriving in Cape Town, South Africa, battered and bruised, Cam Lewis and his Team Adventure crew now face the challenging question of whether to continue The Race.
The first strike against Team Adventure continuing is the loss of two crewmembers, Mikael Lundh of Sweden and Jeffery Wargo of Seattle, Wash. Last Thursday, Team Adventure ploughed into the back of a wave while speeding along between 25 and 30 knots. The abrupt stop threw Lundh, Wargo and other crewmembers around the boat like rag dolls.
After sliding across the trampoline, Lundh suffered a strained neck tendon when the hood of his foul-weather gear got snagged, which jerked his head back.
Wargo suffered a more serious injury, a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra, after he was thrown from the companionway into the galley, approximately six feet. He must restrict his physical movements for the next two or three weeks but is expected to fully recover after two or three months.
The next question they'll have to answer is, how badly damaged is the boat? Team Adventure suffered major damage to its main crossbeam when it slammed into the wave in the Roaring Forties. That came after three weeks of blasting down the Atlantic Ocean at breakneck pace, trying to outgun Grant Dalton's Club Med.
Lewis expects that areas of the beam are delaminated, and there is likely bulkhead failure within the beam where the mast is supported.
A team of boatbuilders from Multiplast, where Team Adventure was built in Vannes, France, and composite specialists in Cape Town are assessing the damage. They're already building replacement bulkheads for the beam, but the damage may require extensive time to repair.
"Once we have a good assessment of the repairs, and the time to do the repairs, the whole crew will sit down tonight," said Lewis. "We'll have to have a long hard look at the rest of the course. It will have to be a group decision, and that decision will be influenced a lot by the report from the boatbuilders."
The loss of Team Adventure is a serious blow to the competitive nature of The Race. Lewis and crew had just clocked a 24-hour run of 617 miles the day before the crash. They were closing to within 100 miles of race leader Club Med, and were the only real threat to the Dalton-led sistership.
"We are all sorry to lose the intensity of the battle between us and Team Adventure," said Dalton in an Athlete's Voice to QuokkaSailing.com. "How do you feel? It's like watching your mother-in-law go over the cliff in your car. You don't know exactly how to feel."
With the loss of Team Adventure, Dalton merely has to nurse Club Med around the world to win The Race. The next competitor, Loïck Peyron's Innovation Explorer, is 773 miles in arrears.
The other two competitors, Roman Paszke's Warta Polpharma and Tony Bullimore's Team Legato are still in the Western Hemisphere, more than 2,500 and 3,400 miles behind, respectively. They certainly won't catch Club Med, but could win the global circumnavigation if attrition keeps striking.
"I have revisited our plan based on this development, and not much has changed," Dalton said. "Travel maybe a little higher through the Southern Ocean, button back a bit only when necessary and work hard on establishing enough margin between us and Innovation Explorer so that we could stop if necessary and still get out in reasonable shape.
"Innovation Explorer has been riding in the system behind us, so they have been able to hold on to a similar distance behind," Dalton said. "The Race has turned into a longitude race now. Every degree of longitude represents about 46 miles at this latitude. So although on the Great Circle route Innovation Explorer is just 670 miles behind, the reality is more like 900 miles because no one can sail further South where the Great Circle route lies because of the bad weather and icebergs."
Onboard Innovation Explorer, the crew has activated the heaters for the first time to dry out boots and fleece underwear before heading farther south to colder climes. The crew has also experienced a few breakages.
"Another two battens broken this morning," said Olivier Lozachmeur. "We are doing 28 knots. We're going to have to wait for it to calm down a bit before changing them. A rather strong wave also ripped off and carried away the life raft hatch located under the port net. Nothing serious, but it does give you an idea of the force of the waves when we hit them at full speed."
There's no need to tell Lewis and crew about the force of the waves. They have plenty of stories.