Team 888 reaches Newport

One week to make repairs to Ellen's Vendee steed prior to DaimlerChrysler start

Sunday June 15th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Jonny Malbon, co-skipper of Team888 (ex-Kingfisher Open 60) and fellow team members Ian McCabe, Richard Hulme and Tony Reid arrived in Newport, Rhode Island yesterday - 23 days after leaving Cowes - in order to make the start nexrt weekend of the DaimlerChrysler Transatlantic Race.

The crossing gave the team more than their fair share of challenges. There were weather problems such as having to skirt high pressure systems in light winds….to battling depressions giving head winds of up to 60 knots as they neared the east coast of the States.

To top it all, a collision with a whale, caused considerable damage to the daggerboard. Repairing this in time for the class one race start on 21 June is now a key priority for the team, as is assessing the damage caused to the hull, which cannot be determined until the boat is lifted out of the water.

Described as “an enormous thud”, the impact managed to stop Team888 dead in her tracks while sailing upwind at around 10 knots.

Team888 Shore manager and ex-Americas Cup boatbuilder Ian McCabe is now charged with repairing the daggerboard - liasing with Mark Turner at Offshore Challenges and local boatyards in Newport.

Should they be unable to make the necessary repairs, then the team will have to sail without it.

On arrival at Newport, co-skipper Jonny Malbon commented “it was a pretty tough crossing for us. We were hoping to be here a week ago, so we really have our backs against the wall to get the jobs list under control now. But we are already on it and we will be on the start line next Saturday.

So for now we have got to fix the damage to the poor old boat, get some rest and get some decent food down us!!! The mash and custard diet we had to endure for the last few days is finally a thing of the past.”

The remainder of the team – Australian navigator Will Oxley, Irishman Nick Black and Kiwi sailor Fraser Brown will arrive in Newport on 17 June - giving the crew four days together before race start.

Navigator Will Oxley is first flying direct to Boston to hook up with America's Cup meteorologist Chris Bedford, who will be routing the team throughout the DCNAC. Will and Chris formed the very successful weather team for the Victory Challenge, America’s Cup Team and are hoping to repeat their successes with Team888.

One of only two British boats in a field of 63 yachts from ten nations in the DaimlerChrysler, the team believe that although they have the smallest yacht in class one, but they could still upset the applecart given the right conditions. Class one is packed with some formidable competition but co-skipper Mark Denton is undaunted: "We like being the underdogs, but Team888’s performance in the right conditions shouldn’t be underestimated. Were fully looking forward to the battle!"

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