LEG 3, CAPE TOWN TO MELBOURNE – The Volvo Ocean Race broadcast team have just released a dramatic 3m10s video from onboard AkzoNobel before, during and after the gybe today that resulted in the sail track popping off the aft side of the mast, making it impossible to use the mainsail. The sail track is glued to the aft side of the mast, and can come off the mast in a violent gybe especially if the mast inverts during the gybe (if, for example, the new windward runner is not wound on soon enough). The crew managed to wrestle the mainsail down in 35+ kts.
Chris Nicholson (AUS), team AkzoNobel, Watch Captain, said: “We had a gybe on in some pretty hard conditions, 35 knots to 40 and had a bad one. I thought we had a good wave to go down and as we were going down and sent the keel through, basically the boat slowed up, stopped, and I should have pulled out of doing it, and we probably would have broached but it wouldn’t have been the outcome that we had which was the main slamming over on the runners, breaking the battens, which was bad.
"The worst part is we’ve pulled the track off the back of the mast. The guys did an awesome job to get the main down, we were scratching our heads for a little while trying to work out how to get the main down. The squalls were to 50 knots while we were doing it. Fifty knots is a hard ask in the best of times with the boat in perfect condition, and we were far from it, so we did an awesome job everyone, to do that. So now we’ve got it down and we’re discussing how and when we can fix it, trying to keep the boat moving as fast as possible now, we’ve just got a jib up, still probably doing 16 knots in 45 knots of wind. So the plan is hopefully to get the track glued back on, or screwed back on, then we’ve got to repair some battens, [and] the mainsail, over the next day or two and if that all goes to plan we could be up sailing again at a 100%, but it’s going to take time, and we’ve got to be careful.”
Watch the video, including the interview with Mr Nicholson....