News Corp loses rudder...
At the time News Corp was still some 1,200 miles from Rio when the painful noise of the rudder breaking was heard. "At the time the boat was sailing at speeds of up to 22 knots on a shy spinnaker reach with full mainsail," explained Field. "All of a sudden the rudder sheared off below the hull."
This is the third V.O.60 to lose her rudder and the second time a rudder has sheared off. Though there are no obvious signs of why this may have occured Field isn't ruling out the team's collision with a growler in the Southern Ocean as a contributing factor. Fortunately there was no other significant damage enabling the team to continue racing using their emergency rudder.
"Obviously the crew is very disappointed, particularly as they were in line to charge into third place with the building breeze," said Field. The team continue to race at an impressive 10 knots of boat speed, however this will leave them with a lot of work for the remaining legs to get back on track to win the event. After a fifth place finish in Auckland the team are now counting two relatively poor results.
On the other side of South America Gunnar Krantz' dismasted SEB is within spitting distance of the Chilean coastline and the port of Punta Arenas. Here the boat will be lifted on to a container ship and taken to Rio. The current ETA in Rio for the boat is the 25 February.
At the front of the fleet John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge has extended her lead to 78 miles. Overnight the two jousting teams of Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One and Kevin Shoebridge's Team Tyco fell into a wind hole losing ground on the leader and allowing the two chasing teams, ASSA ABLOY and djuice, to make up lost ground.
However, since daybreak this morning, the teams have picked up fresh breeze and are now chasing down first place. Amer Sports One and Tyco are hitting speeds of up to 20 knots as they surf toward Rio de Janeiro in a fresh southwesterly wind. On the wing Knut Frostad's djuice is also making a push for a podium finish. With an extra 1.5 knots of boat speed the team could pass into second place on the next sked. Less than 1000 miles now remain - can illbruck hold her lead or will she arrive in Rio at the 'wrong' time only to have the wind die on her?
SEB approaching the Chilean coast line
Page Two... Amer Sports One becalmed overnight...
Page Three... Has Neal sent Lisa a valentines message?