Telefonica hampered by rudder breakage

Hopes of winning the Volvo Ocean Race's eighth leg destroyed for Spanish team

Friday June 15th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Yesterday lunchtime while leading the Volvo Ocean Race, Telefonica broke her starboard rudder for reasons that are unclear. However this came after the Spanish VO70 had notch up a respectible 24-hour run of 564 miles. 

With the wind rising to 40 knots and the seas building, the Telefónica crew replaced their broken rudder with a spare carried as part of the mandatory safety equipment. Most impressive was how quickly the Spanish VO70 was back up to full speed enabling her, by 1900 GMT yesterday evening to regain first place.

Navigator Andrew Cape described the conditions at the time as ‘hairy’, with gale force winds forecast to continue until at least midnight. “It’s on the edge,” he said.

Unfortunately the rudder issues were not to end there for the Spanish team. Mid-evening skipper Iker Martinez says Telefonica fell off a huge wave causing damage to her port rudder as well as breaking in her starboard replacement rudder.

“The strange thing is that we felt we were sailing with very safely at that point,” he said. “There were 30 or 40 knot winds and we had decided to spend the night with a small storm jib and mainsail up, not going too fast, but safely, given the tough conditions. Bringing down the mainsail without a rudder was quite an adventure and some of the battens have broken in the process... to add to the problems.”

Fortunately the port rudder is still intact enough to get the Spanish VO70 to to Lorient on starboard gybe, although at reduced speed and this will cost them the leg.  

“We are sailing without a problem to Lorient at 12 knots," continued Martinez. The situation on board is normal but we have to be very careful as we only have one rudder and it's damaged. Fortunately the one we can use is the port one, the one we really need for sailing tacked to starboard towards Lorient.

"It's the first time that something like this has happened to me and it will be difficult to accept, but I'll have to worry about that once we reach land and any risk is over. I can't say much more for now. It's a sad day for Telefónica and tomorrow is my birthday. It's the right moment, then, to ask as a present that we are all on land safely," said Martinez.

At 0600 GMT this morning. the breeze had dropped to 35 knots although the waves remain big. Groupama is expected in Lorient in first place at around 10-1100 UTC, further extending her lead over the unfortunately Spanish team.

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