Chieftain update from HSH Nordbank Blue Race, 24.06.07

team on Limerick yacht Chieftain has experienced a tough and challenging
first week in the HSH Nordbank Blue Race. The first few days saw the team
acclimatising to the rhythm of life at sea, which is governed by short
bursts of sleep in a noisy, wet cabin, poor quality food and high speed,
adrenaline packed sailing.

Cookson 50 has been consistently delivering high speeds in the region
of 18 – 22 knots. Crew member Ed Hill described the acclimatisation process
when reporting back last Monday morning. "It was quite strange at
first – you felt on edge when boat speed went over 20 knots, yet two hours
later the boat seemed slow if we were not hitting speeds over 20 knots"

morning saw conditions worsen markedly – with gusts of 45 knots and 6
metre seas hitting the fleet. Soon after the 06.00 watch change over Chieftain’s
day of drama commenced. The boat was sailing steadily at an average speed
on 20 knots when, according to Ed Hill "we suddenly hit something
very hard, boat speed crashed to 2 knots and we stopped dead in the water.
Everyone was slammed forward and we were concerned at first that we may
have lost our rudder as there was no feeling in the helm"

initial fears proved unfounded, as the incident was revealed to have been
caused by a collision with a very large sunfish. This contest saw the
unfortunate creature end up in a very distant second place and Chieftain
was soon back up to speed, albeit at the cost of a badly ripped spinnaker
which was repaired by Hill and fellow sail maker Stu Molloy.

continued to deteriorate and late on Thursday afternoon Chieftain was
hit by a 40 knot gust, which forced the boat into a high speed Chinese
gybe. The boat was pinned on her side and another damaged spinnaker meant
more work was in store for Hill and Molloy. The team decided to take stock
and sailed slightly more conservatively for the next 24 hours.