Last to cross the line perhaps, but for Brunel Sunergy there was plenty to celebrate
Given the state the Australian team’s boat was in during the days before the start, to place a bet that Brunel Sunergy and Friends would beat the then world record holders Movistar and the expertise of Paul Cayard’s Pirates, would have raised more than simply a smile.
In the build up to the start it was clear that the Australians would be playing catch up for most, if not all, of the leg. Some even questioned whether Grant Wharington’s team would make it to the finish. Yet ironically, it was perhaps the very fact that the project was so late that saved the team on the wild first night.
“We knew from the start that we were not going to push the boat,” said navigator Campbell Field. “We were definitely the underdogs. Other people’s expectations of us were a lot lower than our own, so we could afford to take it a bit easier and avoid breaking anything or hurting anyone. In the last week we were sailing the boat 100 per cent harder than we were in the first week.”
A fact that could be seen in their performance later in the leg with a best daily run of 504 miles, a figure that makes them the fifth fastest monohull in the world distance record stakes and the third fastest on this leg. Again, no mean achievement.
“We had halyard issues, we had lock issues and couldn’t keep sails up as long as we’d wanted to,” said Wharington. “We stopped about three quarters of the way into our run as we had some breakdowns. But it was important for us to push hard and see how the boat was going to handle the conditions, and it was just fine.”
Did they believe that they could have beaten ABN AMRO One’s record had they not had the problems?
“I really do,” continued Wharington. “It’s a big number and means another 40 odd miles, but we had good conditions and it was just the problems on the boat that held us back. The biggest issue we had was that the fairing on the front of the keel blew off which left a flat plate to be dragged through the water. It’s just like dragging a bucket through the water.”
With the boat safely tied up to the dock, Wharington was also quick to point out that their boat now had more miles under the keel than Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean.
“It’s great to have done the miles and now we’ve done more than Cayard, even though he had more time before the race to prepare that we didn’t have. We now have more time afloat than someone else which is a bit of a bonus. We’ve learned a lot more about sails, a lot about some changes we want to make before the next start.”
But success on the first leg is one thing, how much further would the cash strapped team be able to go?
“At this time we’re happy that IMG and Brunel have come aboard as title sponsors for leg two, but at this stage they’ve guaranteed us to Melbourne. Obviously we’d like to continue and hopefully we can do well for them and they’ll want us to keep going, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”