A tired and battle-scarred Team News Corp secured sixth place in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race after hitting an iceberg and, later, losing their rudder

A tired and battle-scarred Team News Corp secured sixth place in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race after hitting an iceberg and, later, losing their rudder.

Co-skipper of Team News Corp, Ross Field called the leg one of the most dangerous of his 15-year professional career.

The boat hit an iceberg in the Southern Ocean. The last one thousand miles of the race to the finish line was fought with an emergency rudder lashed to the transom.

‘On a scale of 1 – 10 for danger, I give it a 10,’ said Field, recounting his experiences in the Southern Ocean from the dock at Marina da Gloria this evening. ‘I have never seen so much sea ice, so far North. I admit, concerned and sometimes downright scared. This was crazy stuff, but we kept hammering on. I was seriously worried.’

In what co-skipper Jez Fanstone described as ‘one hell of day at the office’, on Day 10 of the leg Team News Corp slalomed through huge icebergs and car-sized growlers. Evasive gybes in 40 knots of wind left Team News Corp with broken main-sail battens and a damaged fractional halyard. One block of ice hit the hull and rudder.

‘We saw two ice bergs four miles ahead and we were clearing them. But then the breeze headed 5 knots and we had no option but to go between them. We knew there would be debris, but we had no choice,’ said Fanstone.

‘Because it was quite choppy the ‘bergs were hard to see. For example, we went past one iceberg that was the size of a house but it only had inches showing above the water, we passed it 20 ft to leeward and it popped up above the waves at the last minute.

‘The iceberg we hit was comparatively small. When we hit it there was a bump and we carried on going. We were relieved it wasn’t a big one, with a bang and a stop.’

Team News Corp’s rudder sheared off when they were closing the Argentinean coast. She was holding third place at the time and was well positioned to move up the fleet.

‘We were head to wind in 25 knots of wind and we ended up in G forces as we rounded up, the rudder popped out of the back,’ said Field. ‘The guys rallied around, got the spinnaker down and within two hours we were up and running.

‘The disappointing part about the whole thing is that we were on the charge from the West. A big black cloud came out and the others took off. We did have the advantage in the West and that was the most disappointing part.’

Dedication and commitment from the crew of Team News Corp prevented the boat from being retired at the nearest port. Constant adjustment of the emergency set-ups ensured maximum speed was maintained at all times. ‘We couldn’t sail with a huge amount of sail area, so we looked at other ways to make the boat go faster. Instead of having to steer sitting on the floor of the cockpit using a tiller, we rigged up a system where we could use the wheels.’

‘We’ve got a fantastic boat and fantastic crew and now we’re going to fix the boat, and get back out there to win the next leg,’ said Field.

Team News Corp earned three points for Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. She now lies in fourth place overall with 19 points.