Volvo Ocean race: Abu Dhabi in for the big chop in Itajai

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is prepared to be loaded onto a container ship in Punta del Este, bound for Itajai, during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. Steve Edmunds

The ship carrying Azzam from Puerto Montt in Chile is en route to Itajai with an ETA of April 17 -- four days before Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are due to return to competition in the In-Port Race.

She is expected to arrive in Itajai about the same time as the newly repaired Camper sailed by Emirates Team New Zealand.

Abu Dhahbi will undergo major hull surgery on both sides of the boat, after she arrives, a process expected to take about 72 hours of the 96 hours she will have before the start of the In Port Race

Volvo Ocean Race reports that thanks to the help of DHL, the Race's official logistics partner, Azzam was sent on her way on Tuesday morning, with two members of the Abu Dhabi shore crew.

'The ship has literally just pulled up anchor and are officially on their way to Itajaí,' said Abu Dhabi shore manager Phil Allen today.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is prepared to be loaded onto a container ship in Punta del Este, bound for Itajai, during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. (Credit: Steve Edmunds/Volvo Ocean Race)

'We have two shore crew guys on board, Sam Bourne and Tim Collen, who will doing as much work on board as possible with the limited tools they were able to take,' he said.

'Their job will be to do as much preparation as possible for the repair and get a head start on the general stopover maintenance.'

The main work will be carried out once the ship arrives in Brazil and the Emirati team estimate it will take around 72 hours to complete the repairs, which will include replacing an area of core foam on both sides of the boat and get her ready to race again.

The team say they will need to chop out 4m x 1m sections on each side of the boat, which will be replaced by new core foam pieces, which have been pre-shaped in the Persico facility in Italy where Azzam was built.

Despite the scale of the task ahead of them the team say they are confident they will be able to nurse Azzam back to full competitiveness for the Itajaí In-Port Race on April 21 and the four remaining legs of the race.