There’s a thread on Ocean racing Anarchy that asks “Are the RTW Boat Breakages Acceptable?” It’s got a ton of interesting comments, but no real conclusions, which isn’t surprising since this whole leg has produced crazy results.
It’s crazy to think that Telefonica Blue blasted out from the Philippines long before anyone else, yet is now just 29 miles ahead of Ericsson 4, which hung back. It’s even crazier that Puma, which spent 24 hours at an anchorage, jury rigging a boom, should be just 30 miles behind the Spanish boat. All that raises questions about tactics, but the big question has been about boat design and build quality.
Until, tonight (Euro time) one could, legitimately, question whether the current crop of boats had been built to less than adequate strength for a Round the World Race, with Telefonica Black, Green Dragon, Puma and Ericsson 3 all suffering structural damage at some stage to date.
Now things have changed. If ever a boat has proved itself to be capable of withstanding what a Round the World race can throw at it that boat has to be ABN AMRO 1, winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race, over the traditional course that every Round the World Race, until this Volvo, has followed. Now Delta Lloyd, the ex-ABN boat has suffered delamination and is limping towards Taiwan to join Ericsson 3.
What does that tell you? In our book, it says that it isn’t the boats that have a problem; it’s whoever thought up a course that took them into a region where – at this time of the year – a stormy, upwind bash was almost guaranteed.
The remaining question is how many boats will be fit for the long leg to Rio, via Cape Horn. Delamination has been reported on several boats, that is not something you can do a quick fix on; it means major repairs in controlled conditions. Do such conditions exist on quays in Subic and Keelung? What repercussions could there be if boats head out into the Southern Ocean, knowing that major structural repairs have been carried out in less than ideal conditions?
Pic of disconsolate Delta Lloyd skipper, Chuny, heading for shelter is from Sander Pluijm. There are vids of all the boats in heavy weather here. Watch and then give your opinion.