Dongfeng at back of the fleet. Down but certainly not out…Volvo Ocean Race
Leg 4: Sanya to Auckland (5, 264 nautical miles)
Days at sea: 10
Boat speed: 6 knots
Distance to finish: 2,739 nautical miles.
Position in fleet: Dongfeng at back of the fleet. Down but certainly not out…
Quote of the moment: “The bottom line is unless you’ve got a lead over 100 nm headed towards the equator; anything can shake up in the light winds of the doldrums – everyone’s still in play.” – Matt Knighton (OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing) on the doldrums.
DONGFENG DOWN BUT NOT OUT – AS CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS ONBOARD ARE OFF!
A series of breakages, and a few regrets on the tactical front – and Dongfeng find themselves for the first time in this Volvo Ocean Race well and truly at the back of the fleet.
Fortunately, there are still nearly 3,000 miles to go and maybe up to 2 weeks racing, and lots of things can and will still happen on this leg probably.
Unfortunately, the starting point is one of newly discovered damage to the mast track – for the third time now for the Dongfeng Volvo Ocean 65. The mast track, via which the mainsail is attached to the mast, has once again come unglued from the mast itself over a small area. And not in the same place as last time which makes it more worrying for the crew. Skipper Charles Caudrelier says that they will now wait until the expected calms of the Doldrums not far away now before attempting to repair it – a delicate operation as images from leg 2 show (see below). Temporarily secured, the team should be able to race at close to normal in terms of the mainsail setting, but have added temporary lashings to try to avoid it getting worse. This means they cannot reef the mainsail when they want anymore – something hopefully they can avoid the need to do. Coupled with that, the broken halyard lock for the J1, along with the halyard inside the mast, are still not repaired – and Caudrelier’s last communication on this was that it was probably not repairable before Auckland. This continues to hinder their ability to easily change from J1 large genoa to the fractional gennaker (code FR0), and also compromising the setting of the J1.