Volvo Ocean Race: Abu Dhabi's Southern Ocean repair + Video

Craig Satterthwaite inspects the bolts as the glue sets, after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had to fix delamination damage, sustained during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing pulled off a heroic repair operation in the depths of the Southern Ocean after discovering delamination in their hull.

Skipper Ian Walker supervised an incredible five-hour job that saw 30 bolts screwed through the hull of Abu Dhabi’s boat Azzam (which means 'determination' in Arabic) to prevent further damage.

In order to carry out the repair, the crew had to slow the boat to a standstill and tilt it onto its side in heavy weather so bowman Justin Slattery, lowered overboard secured to a rope and in full safety gear, could tighten the bolts on the outside of the hull.

Inside the hull, boat captain Wade Morgan and watch leader Craig Satterthwaite braced the damaged section with parts ripped from the boats bunks, stacking system and lockers.

'We’ve basically joined the skins back together with a mechanical fixing,' Walker said.

'At the moment it’s been much improved, we’ve got much less noise and it seems fairly strong.

Anthony Nossiter preparing to check the delamination damage sustained to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

'We’re still taking it quite easy right now.'

The damage was discovered in darkness, so the crew waited for daylight to effect repairs.

Walker praised the work of his crew, who carried out the repair in 30-knot winds and big seas, around 1,700 miles from land.



Justin Slattery and Anthony Nossiter prepare to check the delamination damage sustained to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)


'Wade and Craig oversaw the repairs down below and Justin Slattery was the man over the side on the halyard tightening the bolts.

'Everyone else was helping, there was a lot of stuff going on.'

It’s the second major repair the Abu Dhabi crew have had to carry out in Leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil.

The team chose to return to Auckland within hours of starting the leg to repair structural damage to a bulkhead in the bow.

Azzam 'hove to' for the repair work to the damaged hull, in the middle of the Southern Ocean. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Walker said he was in talks with his team about how to progress, and that all options were open.

'The message is we’re in good shape,' he said.

'Right now we’re sailing with two people on deck, everyone else is down below resting.

'We’re making good progress towards the Chilean coast at the moment, north east away from the worst of the incoming weather.'


Azzam 'hove to' for the repair work to the damaged hull, in the middle of the Southern Ocean. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Jules Salter and Simon Fisher prepare glue for fixing delamination damage, sustained to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Justin Slattery is lowered over the side of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to fix delamination damage, sustained during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam with bolts screwed through the hull after sustaining delamination damage, during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)