A Southern Slamfest
A Southern Slamfest
More trouble is looming for Telefonica once they reach port in Itajai, Brazil. There, The International Jury will schedule a hearing after receiving a report from the head of the Measurement Group over the sails carried by Team Telefónica during Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland. While details of the hearing will not be made public until after the hearing, it is known that the subject of the protest involves a breach of Notice of Race 5.2.1 and 5.2.2:
1. (a) A Boat shall have on board 1 storm trysail, 1 storm jib and1 heavy weather jib (HWJ).
NOR 5.2.2 In addition to the sails required to be on board in NOR 5.2.1(a) a Boat may carry on board sails to a maximum of:
1. (a) 1 Mainsail
2. (b) 2 Headsails (which may include additional HWJ’s and storm jibs)
3. (c) 3 Spinnakers including 1 fractional spinnaker, which complies with Volvo Open 70 Rule v.3. Section 11.3.9. None of these 3 additional spinnakers can be an In Port race spinnaker as described in NOR APPENDIX E
4. (d) 1 Staysail (SS). Only permitted on a leg.
During Leg 4, at least one competitor reported to the Measurement Group that they had seen Telefonica use 2 different storm jibs. Depending on the number of total headsails onboard, Telefonica may have violated either 5.2.1 or 5.2.2. After arrival in Auckland, the Measurement Group inspected Telefonica, and found sufficient evidence to open a protest.
Should a violation of NOR 5.2.2 be found, the damage to Telefonica’s standing will likely be minimal, based on historical precedent. In the last Volvo Ocean Race, Ericsson 3 was found to have sailed the first leg with an illegal keel. The team was protested, docked 4 points, and forced to install a valid keel. I expect to see Telefonica docked no more than 5 points, still giving them an overall lead going into Leg 5.
Elsewhere in the fleet, fourth-placed CAMPER/ETNZ is heading to Chile to repair damage suffered to their boat. Onboard, Hamish Hooper describes the situation: “Things certainly aren’t getting any easier onboard CAMPER. Last night as we were sailing along trying to keep the boat slow and under control we managed to pop the starboard longitudinal. The forth-big blow we have had in a row. With each new blow things become that much harder and fragile. Rob Salthouse deserves a knighthood, he has basically been working in the bow completely covered in carbon dust for 4 days now, with the slightest of sleep between fixing things and them breaking again.” With 2000 miles still to go to Chile, and a dwindling supply of boatbuilding materials, things are becoming dire onboard CAMPER. The crew however is doing their best to keep morale up. Check out this video of Southern Ocean boatbuilding and sushi making onboard a Volvo 70.
For fifth placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the carnage ahead is a golden opportunity. Since returning to the race after repairing their J4 bulkhead, Azzam has been stuck in the lighter winds behind the storm battering the boats ahead. Though 1400 miles behind Groupama, Azzam has the ability to pass both CAMPER and Telefonica when they stop for repair. From onboard, skipper Ian Walker reports, “It seems surreal that the leaders are now 1100 miles ahead but it doesn’t faze us. Bizarrely, morale is very high onboard despite our predicament. I guess this is due to the fact that it has been beyond our control and because of the belief that we will get a break at some point. This leg could still be all about who makes it to Itajai in one piece.” While we know the situation onboard the other boats, the teams are left to guess. “There is no question the anticipation is building on board. In fact, most of the day we sit around surmising what might have happened to Camper or Telefonica recently. All we can see is that they have been off the pace for the past 24 hours and seem to be heading due east towards Chile rather than the horn. We all have our theories, but the suspense is killing us! Hopefully everyone is safe in the rest of the fleet…"
Finally, for Team Sanya, their race is all but over. Following damage to their rudder that nearly sank the boat, the team has managed to limp back to New Zealand where they will board a ship bound for Savannah, GA. Team Sanya hopes to be back in the water and ready to compete again in the Miami In-Port Race.
To finish first, you first must finish. For two the five teams left in this leg, the race now involves the skill of the shore team as much as the sailing team. For Ian Walker, and the crew of Azzam, will this be the opportunity they have been dreaming of? Can PUMA pass Groupama and win a leg? Stay tuned; the drama only builds from here.