The teams’ shore crews have been working steadily since the boats arrived in Lorient after a turbulent leg from Lisbon, but today most could see a light at the end of the tunnel as the job lists were all but ticked off.
PUMA shore crew manager Tim Hacket said his team had found just a few items requiring repair despite the tough running Mar Mostro went through on Leg 8.
“The boat, as always, arrived in excellent shape, which helps reduce the workload given the restrictions we have at this stopover.” Hacket said. “We have thoroughly gone over the boat for any damage from the last leg, and we only found a few small items.
“The rest of the preparations are just general maintenance — as much as we can possibly do without pulling the rig or hauling the boat.”
CAMPER shore boss Neil Cox was equally pleased with how well their boat had weathered the 45 knot winds of the North Atlantic depression.
“It was as good as new when it arrived here,” Cox said. “Unlike some of the other teams we’ve had no major jobs to do.”
“The boys have just spent the week checking everything over and doing regular servicing. Nothing big and we are ready to be back out sailing on Monday.
“This in-port race is a massive one for us, so it’s important we get as much time out on the water as possible before next weekend.”
The shore crews are generally the unsung heroes of the race but they do get an important moment in the spotlight via the DHL Shore Crew Award. The prize for Leg 8, given as always by the race’s official logistics partner DHL, will be handed out on Thursday.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s shore team were faced with a tricky repair when they discovered a missing piece of fairing at the top of Azzam’s keel.
With a two point penalty looming if they had to haul out, the team, led by Phil Allen, showed typical resourcefulness to get the job done.
Having constructed a replacement fairing, members of Allen’s team met at 0400 on Wednesday, when the tide height and weather conditions were optimum, to careen the boat over at the dockside using a halyard.
Before proceeding, the team had checked the loads with Azzam’s designers Farr Yacht Design to make sure there were no undue risks. Then, with several of the team sitting on the semi capsized boat, shore crew members Ben Davies and Ben Clifford successfully completed the two hour repair.
Afterwards, Allen commented:
“The guys onboard have fought very hard for every point in this race and we weren’t about to give away two points unless we absolutely had to.
“Ian Walker is adamant that whatever the overall race standings, you must fight for every point”.
Groupama’s shore crew completed their general maintenance schedule and also put right a problem at the top of their mast with the mainsail halyard locking system — also avoiding a two point penalty.
“If the part had been faulty, the team could have ended up in a very disadvantageous position for the rest of the race,” said mast and rigging specialist Marine Villard.
“We soon found a solution to get the part working correctly again, so we realised that we no longer needed to unstep the mast. We’ve managed to get our head around what was preventing it from working properly and chose not to carry out the laborious process of unstepping the mast, which would have incurred a penalty.”
Sanya shore manager Nick Bice said a necessary underwater repair to one of the dagger board covers had tested his team’s ingenuity, but reported that aside from cosmetic work, the job was all but complete.
“Unfortunately we sustained some underwater damage during the last leg and due to the rules of the stopover we were unable to haul the boat and therefore we have had to be quite resourceful in our repair methods,” Bice said.
“it has made the job more difficult from a timescale point of view but we are into final paint stage now, so it’s all good.
“All other jobs have been related to checking all major components after quite a strenuous leg from Lisbon. All in all, for a boat that has almost completed two laps around the world, she’s looking quite smart.”