Rudder problems forces Velux 5 Oceans Race competitor Graham Dalton to take pitstop 2/11/06

Kiwi skipper Graham Dalton competing in the 5 Oceans Race is forced to make a stop to carry out repairs to his rudder. Dalton has reported problems with his rudder port-side rudder bearings and needs to stop within the next few days.

Dalton, who left Bilbao last Friday following a delayed start, missed the horrendous weather which battered the rest of the fleet. Although his new Open 50 has kept pace with the Open 60s of Unai Basurko (ESP) and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (GBR), he has found a pin in one of his gudgeons has come loose. He is currently expected to pull into Porto Santo, just east of the Madeira Islands.

This problem, whilst not placing him in immediate danger, must be rectified before Dalton continues into the Southern Ocean. The loads which will be placed upon the rudder bearings in this, the most treacherous and lonely area of the world will certainly test his boat and systems to the limit.

Commenting Dalton said: “I’ve got a problem with one of my rudder bearings to sort out. If I was going to Cape Town I might try to chance it, but what with going another 2,000 miles of sailing ahead I’m going to have to pull in to get it fixed. My heart tells me to keep on going because Robin was only 170 miles ahead and every step we put time on him. To give that all away is a big call, but one bad decision and you lose your steering in the Southern Ocean, not only might you lose your boat, but you might lose your life. You have to over rule your heart with your head.”

Meanwhile, British Alex Thomson continues to be hampered by problems with his furling gear. It appears that the difficulties he encountered in furling his headsail during the vicious storm last week were not solved when he stopped in Gijon. Thomson now faces the prospect of climbing the mast to resolve the problem before leaving the calm waters he is currently in. Not looking forward to the climb Thomson admits he is concerned that he might be “opening a can of worms.”

Bernard Stamm (SUI) continues to extend his lead on second placed Kojiro Shiraishi (JPN), his average speed over the last 24 hours being the fastest in the fleet. Second fastest was Unai Basurko (ESP), charging out of Vigo to rejoin the pack.