Our Pacific Cup pals on the Beneteau First 30 “Naos” check in with some damage of their own, thanks to a little part of the mountain of plastic reported in the North Pacific.
Yesterday with no updates until the late afternoon we got some terrible news – Naos 30 had hit some rough technical issues and the rudder was shot. The mechanical issue happened as a result of the trash floating about in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Charly & Fred have been dodging bins, nets and other debris throughout the entire race and Tuesday night while doing 11 knots they ran over a large plastic barrel which damaged the rudder; in addition to this the masthead gennaker/zero halyard sheave broke. The team had been pushing the boat full bore for days, making tactical moves and adjustments to max out the performance of the Beneteau First 30. They only sail they have left is the large spinnaker which is an unthinkable choice in the wind and sea conditions.
So Charly & Fred have let the foot off the pedal to maximize safety, they very much remain in the race trying to maximize speed while being conscious not to push the rudder past the tipping point. The mood onboard is indescribable. After pushing past the point of exhaustion and keeping ahead of the pack for the entire race their morale is low. There are only so many things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, and the elements will have their say. As Charly put it “The sea is a place where one learns humility, pride does not belong.”
Each sunrise brings a new day, after a night of good sleep and dreams Charly and Fred are feeling better about the new circumstances of the race. The decision to back off speed does not keep them out of the running. Today when the ranking email came in they still had Naos 30 as #1 in their division, yesterday the boat did 167nm only 20 less than the past few days. They continue to walk the line of pushing as much as they can while keeping safety in mind. It is easy to be defeated but the team is well aware that we would all like to switch places with them sailing along the Pacific Ocean with the tradewinds at our back and Hawaii in our future. Either way a day on a boat is not a bad day at all. As Naos 30 speeds down so does the pressure on their “Rahan Attack Mode” – both Charly & Fred have the opportunity to take in the nature around them and enjoy the current position in life.
Thankfully Fred is a naval architect! He has been doing repair work on the rudder in an effort to tighten it up so that if the wind drops below 15 knots they can raise up the spinnaker without too much stress. This morning they took out a padeye off the deck, cut and adjusted the screws and put it back on the rudder, re-securing it all. This should be safe enough for them to make it to Hawaii. The entire boat was inspected, including a visual check of the rig. Their layline is perfect. With 635 miles to go and we wish them safety speed. There may still be a podium at the end of this for Naos 30, rudder or not!