Ouch

Green Dragon reveals keel damage from underwater collision

Tuesday November 4th 2008, Author: Lucy Harwood, Location: United Kingdom
It is 36 hours since Green Dragon arrived into Cape Town to complete the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. For the shore team the work has just begun.

The Dragon has been stripped, the sails, boom, bunks, kit bags, rubbish, spare supplies and mast have been removed.

Tuesday morning at 1000 local time, Green Dragon was craned out of the water and into her temporary home. During the stopover, the team will be based out of Team Shosholoza's base located in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

The first job was to assess the damage to the keel. Last Thursday (30/10/08) Green Dragon was stopped in her tracks as skipper Iain Walker reported at the time:

“Back on the race track the front has outrun us, we had a 60 degree shift which meant we had to gybe south. We were settling into this course when at 0130 we hit something in the water. There was a deafening crunch and the boat went from 25 knots to a virtual standstill. Neal, who was helming smashed the wheel and everyone else fell over. We inspected the hull, foils and keel for damage as best we could and all seemed fine apart from a huge vibration - presumably caused by whatever was now on the keel. We decided to live with this until daylight but a few hours later it seemed to have cleared. Today we can see clearly on the keel that we hit something hard - thank goodness it wasn’t the rudders or they would have been broken.”



Johnny Smullen, the team's Shore Manager concluded: "The extent of the damage structurally is not as bad as we may have first anticipated, we immediately asked ourselves, what did they hit, was it a container on the surface? Perhaps a log or the whole tree! As we stood on the dock in anticipation this morning, we were somewhat relieved to see that structurally we survived. The steel keel and bearings were intact without any crazing and/or cracks, what didn’t survive was the carbon fibre fairing which fairs the leading edge of the keel.

"In short the keel is milled out of a single billet of heat treated steel, and the forward and trailing edges are added later as these shapes would almost be impossible to machine. We added pre-shaped fairings to these areas and fortunately the forward one also doubles up as a sacrificial leading edge or simply put - a bumper. Unfortunately once you loose this you have a flat section across the front of your keel…. which really impacts your speed! We also lost the keel pin fairing, this is a conical fairing, which does exactly that, it fairs the 150mm keel pin, and without these we have a very unfair underwater profile. It would have the same effect, if a Formula 1 car lost all its wings and the nose!”

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