Team Philips - Goss talks

Almost a week after returning to Dartmouth, Pete Goss has explained what's going on down in Totnes

Thursday October 12th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Following their return to Dartmouth last week, less than 24 hours into sea trials that were supposed to have taken them all the way to the States, the short and cryptic comments coming out of the Team Philips camp has been in marked contrast to the earlier open approach. Unhappy at being treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed on, well, you know the rest), some of the group's many supporters have started to get a bit ansy in the Team Philips website forum - to the extent of posting ghosted comments from Pete Goss. Before this got out of hand and the rest of the world started repeating these words in articles like this, the man himself stepped up to the plate to explain what's going on - people power, the wonder of the Internet.
So, what did go wrong aboard Team Philips? Each mast sits on a huge titanium ball, about the size of a football and reputed to have cost a cool £30,000. Inside the base of the mast is an equally large cup that sits on the ball, allowing the full range of rotation that the mast must take. Essentially, this cup broke free from the base of the mast. The analysis being that the cup and ball weren't sufficiently lubricated, and so the rotation of the mast just twisted the cup off its fastenings inside the mast. The mast then dropped onto the boat's structure around the titanium ball. From there it couldn't move around much, because the ball was right inside the mast, limiting its movement. So the damage to the hull's structure is small, and Goss reckons it will take just four or five days to repair the damage that's mostly been done to the forward bulkhead. The damage to the mast, and more importantly a mechanism to stop it happening again, are bigger problems. Goss reckons it could be as much as six weeks before they sail again.

So, the Team Philips structures and building team, Barry Noble, Martyn Smith, Adrian Thompson and Graham Goff settle down to solve another problem. To do so, they have started a completely new aerodynamic appraisal of Team Philips, to try to model the way that the masts move with sailing loads, using new software. Goss remains confident that she will ultimately work, but ... 'There is no doubt that it's now down to Team Philips. She has to prove herself. Safety will always come first and the decision to go or not rests with me. We'll see, we have no commitments to anything but her work up. My bones tell me it's on and I'm excited by the prospect of the race, it's been a long time coming.'

At least the project has retained its sense of humour. Graham Goff commented, 'There is some good news. Clearly the sails are superb! So far they've blown the bow clean off one side and now they threaten to rip the masts out of the boat ... I think we have had a degree of luck in finding these problems before they cost us dearly. We are fortunate in having such a great build and design team behind us who raise their game every time we bring the boat back with bits missing. Honestly guys, the bits are getting smaller.' Unfortunately, so is the time available to get ready for the start.

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