Volvo Ocean Race: Emirates Team NZ mount major repair effort in Chile

Skipper Chris Nicholson on the satellite phone, talks to his shore crew about the dame and repair options, for Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Emirates Team New Zealand have started a major logistics and shore support effort to get their Volvo Ocean race entry, Camper turned around once she reaches the Chilean port of Puerto Montt.

She is expected to arrive in Puerto Montt, which is about 800nm north of Cape Horn, between 1-3 April, depending on wind direction. Currently she is sailing at 10kts and heading in a straight line for her destination, rather than taking the optimised route which would have her sail well south and then come up the Chilean coast.

Mike Pammenter measures up some carbon fibre plates for repairing the forward bulkhead onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©
Camper has 2000nm to sail to the reach the port. Repairs are expected to take 3-5 days, which would have her leave by 8 April at the latest. In the current weather conditions that is a nine-day trip, meaning she would arrive at the stopover port of Itajaí, Brazil around 17 or 18th of April, with the In Port race scheduled to start on 21 April and Leg 6 to Miami starting on 22 April.

That schedule would seem to have sufficient slack time in it for adverse weather, plus gains can obviously be made if Camper arrives in Puerto Montt ahead of 3 April and if the repairs can be effected in less than five days.

The damage occurred in two stages, first a bulkhead broke on the exit from Auckland once the fleet hit the SE gale, rated as the worst opening night of any leg of any race by several Round the World veterans.

That damage was repaired, however two days ago a second fracture occurred with the port a longitudinal frame - which runs fore and aft in the boat, and designed to spread hull loads over a greater, apparently parting company with the hull for part of its length. The damage is consistent with a hard fall off a big wave, and would be impossible to fix in rough weather due to hull flexing, and being unable to get a proper glue bond effected between the frame and the hull. Today it was reported that the starboard longditudinal had also poppoed for part of its length.

Emirates Team New Zealand said today that they have commenced a significant logistics operation to ensure that the boat can be turned around as fast as possible.

Rob Salthouse grinding back some delaminated carbon on the longitudinal, onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Cookson Boats which built Camper, started today building a replacement bulkhead and longitudinal (hull support) that will be air-freighted to Chile. A six strong shore crew of boat builders are also preparing to leave for Puerto Montt to carry out the repairs when Camper arrives.

Skipper Chris Nicolson says that the team is determined to get back up to speed as soon as possible.

'We are making steady progress towards Puerto Montt where I know our great shore crew will get the boat back into racing shape in record time.

Will Oxley receives advice on the repair work needed on the forward bulkhead, onboard Camper during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

'For now our immediate priority is keeping the boat de-powered and ensuring that no further damage is suffered between here and Chile. Conditions are still pretty brutal with winds gusting over 40 knots so we are just nursing things along and attempting to keep the boat at a safe speed.'

Groupama, winner of Leg 4 is currently leading from, Puma Ocean Racing, with the overall race leader, Telefonica in third place, but reported to be nursing their boat in the extreme conditions that have prevailed for the last few days of the race. The have bow damage which they do not want to aggravate.

With Camper's scheduled pit-stop, four of the six entries in the race have had to suspend racing for at least one leg.

Rob Salthouse applying resin to the carbon cloth on the damaged forward bulkhead onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

The fixed and plated bulkhead onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)
Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©