Global Ocean Race leg 2 start delayed

As a keel problem is found on Nico Budel's Sec. Hayai

Sunday November 27th 2011, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: South Africa

Just as the Global Ocean Race 2011-12 Race Committee made the decision on Friday to postpone Sunday’s Leg 2 start in Cape Town due to a forecast of strong headwinds, news arrived at the GOR HQ in the V&A Waterfront Marina of keel problems with one of the fleet’s double-handed Class40s.

Since arriving in Cape Town 20 days ago after 42 days of racing in GOR Leg 1, Nico Budel, joined by his son, Frans Budel, for Leg 2, have been working on their three year-old, first generation Akilaria, Sec. Hayai. On Friday morning, Frans Budel checked the Class40’s keel bolts and discovered that both of the keel-head bolts had failed completely – an unhappy development since the mandatory keel inspection earlier this year enforced by the GOR Race Committee.

With 7,500 miles of the Indian Ocean’s high latitudes and around one month of hard racing ahead of the Budels, only a 100 per cent-effective repair was acceptable before the Class40 could cross the Cape Town Leg 2 start line and head for Wellington, New Zealand. Allowing Sec. Hayai to start later than the main fleet risked isolating the Dutch team and - should Sec. Hayai encounter problems mid-Leg 2 - made the option of a swift rescue by another GOR Class40 less practical.

The start delay due to strong winds had bought the Dutch duo some extra time, but the pressure was now on 72 year-old Nico Budel and his 41 year-old son, Frans, to co-ordinate and complete the complex repair in record time. As word of the Sec. Hayai-problem filtered around the V&A Waterfront Marina, the offers of assistance were instantaneous: The V&A’s Harbour Master, Steven Bentley; Craig Garrow of Pronto Clearing – the Cape Town co-ordinator of GOR logistics for GOR Race Partner, Peters & May – and Richard Svensson, managing the onshore logistics for the Volvo Ocean Race’s impressive set-up at the V&A, joined forces to find an immediate solution.

By late afternoon, Sec. Hayai’s mast was pulled and placed on trestles next to the enormous Robinson Dry Dock in front of the Waterfront Craft Market. Within minutes of securing the mast ashore, Sec. Hayai was craned out of the Alfred Basin and lowered onto splashers mounted on two Volvo Ocean Race 40ft shipping containers. Early the following morning, the keel was removed, lowered on a fork lift truck and the failed keel head – which has already circumnavigated the globe as 2008-09 GOR double-handed winner, Beluga Racer - was removed and fresh bolts were welded in place by early Saturday afternoon.

With the extraordinary progress made by the Budels and their team of local marine engineers and specialists, GOR Race Director, Josh Hall, was confident that Sec. Hayai would be ready to race and reset the GOR Leg 2 start time for 12:00 local (10:00 GMT) on Tuesday 29 November, with the noon-day gun at the peak of Signal Hill as the start signal. For Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR, the restart circumstances are perfect: “It’s very fortunate for the GOR Race Organisation and the other Class40 teams that the Leg 2 start weather-window coincides with the completion of work on Sec. Hayai,” said Hall on Sunday. “Our teams are all keen to get going and it’s a testament to the skill and professionalism of Nico and Frans, their team and the other organisations in the V&A Waterfront that have helped-out throughout the repair that Sec. Hayai is ready to race.”

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