Leaky ballast tank on GAES

Dee Caffari gets laminating...

Tuesday March 22nd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

One of the few crews to have escaped any major technical problems onboard during the Barcelona World Race so far, the all female duo aboard GAES Centros Auditivos were dealt a cruel blow over the weekend. After tacking in bad conditions on Friday, a tonne and a half of water gushed into the boat through a crack in one of the ballast tanks. Having identified the problem area, Caffari and Corbella laboured hard to repair the damage over the weekend, with further work being conducted today in the hope that GAES Centros Auditivos will reach the finish line in Barcelona without the need for a technical pit stop.

Boat Project Manager, Joff Brown, explains the situation: “Part of the structure which acts as both the front wall of the forward ballast tank and as part of the hull strengthening network in the mid bow area was compromised. Despite daily checks on the yacht’s structure, the girls only noticed the damage when they tacked and filled the forward ballast tank. They realised it was emptying out of the tank into the front of the boat. The damage had probably been done in the previous 24hrs of upwind sailing on the other tack and was caused by the slamming of the boat into the waves.

“We had an indication that we were vulnerable in this area during the 2009 TJV but had taken action to reinforce this area. The boat has sailed 35,000 miles since then, so we were a bit surprised to see the damage.

“However, following the damage in 2009, the amount of materials onboard that can be used to repair such problems was doubled and so Dee and Anna have enough materials to carry out repairs at the moment. On Saturday, Dee and Anna managed to prepare the area and laminate some new patches to cover the damaged part and as soon as the wind goes light and the motion of the boat is reduced the girls are going to make a hole in the ballast tank top so that they can make a repair to the other side of the damaged structure, that is hidden from them at the moment.”

Caffari added: “When you see structural damage in the boat it makes you very nervous, particularly when you discover it in bad conditions as we did over the weekend. I am confident and experienced in most boat maintenance and repairs but when it comes to boat building I have limited knowledge. Thankfully I am given detailed instructions and I trust my team entirely so I feel I am well supported in this venture. We are going to drop all the sails and stop the boat in order to carry out the repair on the inside of the ballast tank. We have a long way to go yet and our success is dependent on these repairs.”

Despite this setback, Caffari and Corbella continue to make gains on the boats ahead and at the 0900 hrs ranking were in 6th place, 636 miles behind Boris Herrmann and Ryan Breymaier on Neutrogena. There are more than 4000 miles to the finish in Barcelona.

Aviva has been a longstanding supporter of Dee Caffari and her inspirational record breaking sailing achievements, assisting her to three world records including becoming the first woman to sail solo, non stop, around the world in both directions. As Founding Partner of Caffari’s sailing campaign, Aviva is pleased to extend this support to Corbella and GAES for the Barcelona World Race.

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