VOR: Springing and limping around the Horn—Sailing news from the U.S.
Mar Mostro. Currently, the two boats are shadow boxing each other up the coast of Argentina, with each 'sched' showing a leap-frogging leader situation. [Ed. Note: At the time of this writing, Mar Mostro was in the lead by one nautical mile.]
But first, a word about rounding the Horn, which Mar Mostro skipper, Ken Read, wrote quite eloquently: 'It would be too easy to glow poetically about what it means to go around Cape Horn—for me the second time,' reports Read. 'Instead, I will describe the scene on board as it happened. Kind of like a first timers' equator crossing, there is a ritual and for very good reason. It is a time to be proud and happy and relieved. The feeling of we have escaped is prominent. The hardened and the rookies share this feeling. It is a feeling that sticks with you forever. It is a time to take an hour break from the race and just appreciate the accomplishment that few others share. A wonderful time.'
Read's words are especially poignant given that the storm-tossed Leg Five has maimed or mangled four out of the six competing boats, with Emirates Team New Zealand (ENTZ), Telefonica and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing competing for third-place honors now that Team Sanya has retired from the leg. The contest for third-place honors has now become a matter of who can repair—and sustain—their boats and resume sailing the fastest, with ENTZ and Telefonica having already committed to their repair operations (get the full scoop on both, inside). Telefonica's repair program, in particular, was quite clever and avoided sailing many additional miles, but it also traded the assurances of a yard for the lee of an island.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's repaired hull, which was fixed by the racing crew, at sea in the Southern Ocean 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) Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing /Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, meanwhile, suffered some serious delamination damage, suspiciously close on the heels of the team hitting a rumored 42-plus knots of boatspeed. This damage, which is serious given where it is relative to the boat's keel section, necessitated the crew to heave-to and through-bolt the delaminating sections of hull (and also add struts and structural support—see image). The team is currently assessing their situation before committing to a stop, although current whispers call for the team to follow ENTZ's wake and put in at Puerto Montt, Chile. Get the full reports inside, and be sure to check out the fantastic system that the Groupama boys have put together for the one-man, VO70 watch (yes, you read that right), now that weather and angles have moderated. The video is impressive stuff!
Also offshore, drama is unfolding in the Clipper Around the World Race, where four crewmembers aboard Geraldton Western Australia sustained injuries during storm-force conditions that the team encountered some 400 miles off the coat of California. The wave that injured the crewmembers, it should be noted, also damaged some of the boat's steering and communication equipment, and a full-blow rescue is underway.
'We were racing along in 40-60 knot gusts,' said Juan Coetzer, Geraldton Western Australia's skipper, describing the moment the monster wave clobbered his yacht. 'The sea was alive with rage. We were making good speed, sailing with the third reef in the main, surfing at 15 - 20 knots. Then at our watch change, just before the sun came up, a monstrous foaming swell broke over our stern. The water had so much force in it that it pushed Mark [Burkes] into the helm, snapping the pedestal clean off. We had no steering and crew were falling all over the boat.
'Quickly, we got the emergency steering in place. Then the third reef blew, so the storm jib went up and we pulled down the remains of our main sail, tidied up the boat and the treated the wounded. In the afternoon a Coast Guard plane flew by and dropped us some extra supplies.' Get the full story, inside.
Meanwhile, in Grand Prix One Design keelboats circles, the RC44 Cascais Cup just wrapped up in Cascais, Portugal, where four-time America's Cup winner Russell Coutts successfully called the tactics for Katusha, beating out fourteen other takers for the top step of the podium. The event, it should be noted, saw breezes and conditions that ranged from boat-breaking to benign zephyrs. Be sure to check out the full media blitz, including some slick videos, inside.
Stateside, at the Long Beach Yacht Club, in Long Beach, California, skipper Ian William (GBR) and tactician Bill Hardesty (USA) won the 48th Congressional Cup, making this their second consecutive win of this prestigious trophy. 'It's good to win two in row,' said Williams when queried about what he would do with a second crimson blazer that, along with a hefty check are some of the finer trappings of this win. 'To be able to do it against someone like Gavin [Brady] really means something. I'm still a couple behind him.'
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