Volvo Ocean Race: Broken mast forces Abu Dhabi to suspend racing

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at the start of leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean race 2011-12 from Alicante, Spain

Volvo Ocean Race is reporting that the Ian Walker skippered Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam has suffered a broken mast and had suspended racing on the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, which began today in Alicante.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK at the start of leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean race 2011-12 from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Credit must read: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race)
Jules Salter told Volvo Ocean Race control that all the crew were unhurt and were attempting to recover what they could. 'There is no panic on board and we're planning to motor back during the night before effecting repairs,' he said.

The boat was 30 nautical miles south of Cartagena on the Spanish coast. The wind was blowing 30 knots and the waves were around 3.5 metres. Cartagena is about 40nm from the start at Alicante, and it is likely that she will return to the start to effect repairs or a replacement.

the spar and rigging are believed to to have supplied by Valencia, Spain based Future Fibres. She was using a mix of TSC laterals, FlexC aft and PBO forestays http://www.futurefibres.com/Projects/Projects/Azzam-Abu-Dhabi-Ocean-Racing-VO70.html!Click_here for a release on the mast specification for Azzam. It has not been stated if the failure was caused by a rigging failure or 'operator error'.

It is being reported that Abu Dhabi has a spare mast, which is being taken to Alicante.

If Azzam's spare mast can be quickly fitted and checked, then she could restart quite quickly and would play catch up with the fleet. She may not be that badly off if she can work a better course through the Doldrums, and others ahead of her had gear failure in a position where they just had to sail out the leg.

The Cartagena search and rescue organisation have been informed and are on standby to assist if necessary.

Abu Dhabi Media Crew Member Nick Dana explained the situation in an email from the boat:

'We have dropped our rig. Everyone is alright on board, and we are in the process of cutting the excess rigging away. The boat's mainsail and J4 were retrieved successfully along with various other parts that we will hope to re-use.

'We put a man in the water (Wade Morgan) to cut away the top of the mainsail at the headboard car. Wade was able to make several attempts at cutting, however a very violent sea state made it extremely dangerous for him to remain in the water. The crew retrieved him promptly and were able to get the mainsail off the lock -- allowing it to slide down the rig and be pulled from the water.'

Volvo Ocean Race control is in constant contact with the team while establishing the full extent of the damage so that the crew are given full support to enable them to deal with the situation.

Azzam’s shore team are working on a recovery plan to ensure the yacht can rejoin the Volvo Ocean Race as soon as practically possible.

Further information will be issued as it becomes available.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK at the start of leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean race 2011-12 from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Credit must read: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race)