While the leading boats in the Cape to Rio race are enjoying the spoils of Brazil; caipirinhas and more red meat that is humanly possible to consume, one team, the Ullman Challenge, is struggling to make the finish. They were rolling downwind in a decent breeze late yesterday when things came to a sticky end. Here is their message sent to Race HQ.
“Please be advised that The Ullman Challenge lost her rudder at 18H00 Z in position 22 50.5 S 040 15.7 W (approximately 158 miles E of Rio de Janiero). All crew are safe and OK. Rudder stock is intact and the vessel is NOT taking on water. We will jury rig a rudder and continue towards Rio as best we can. We do not require assistance but would just like to keep everybody informed.”
This team, made up of mostly non-white sailors from very impoverished neighborhoods around Cape Town were, as their slogan states, Following a Dream. They were holding their own in a very competitive fleet and fast closing in on the finish line when the rudder blade sheared off without warning. The sea condition was rough but overnight they have been able to fashion two jury rigs using floorboards out of the boat. One jury rig is for light wind conditions and the other is for when the wind picks up which it is expected to do as they get closer to the finish in Rio.
This morning navigator Nick Leggatt sent the following update. “We are now within sight of Cabo Frio. Our intention is to complete the race under our own power and to declare that any hours that the engine was used was done so to avoid ships and rocks. The wind remains from the NNE at 20-25 knots. Sea state remains rough but manageable. Less than 100 miles to go to Rio. With boat speed around 5 knots we expect to arrive sometime on Thursday.”
Here’s wishing the 27 year old skipper Theo Jon and his team a safe sail into the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain and congratulate them on persevering when it would have been so easy to take a tow.