The VOR yacht, News Corp has hit a growler, while sailing at 21 knots of boat speed this morning. The crew immediately dived below decks to make sure that the yacht was safe and that they were not taking on any water. Fortunately, the boat appeared to be sound and the crew were all safe and well. Since that time, however, the boat has had to make a course away from the favoured route in the south, to sail downwind in order to effect immediate repairs to their rig which was damaged at the time of the collision, along with some sails. Ross Field reported later that they hoped to be racing again at full strength over the next few hours.
This will come has a tremendous blow to the crew of News Corp, who were anxious to make up for their fifth place on the last leg, which put them from second overall to third overall on cumulative points in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Ross Field reported just after the accident, “I am bloody worried. This is dangerous because there are icebergs everywhere. There are growlers floating nowhere near the bergs. I was steering and all I felt was a loud crash on the hull and then the rudder. The guys below then rushed into the bow and checked the interior but we appeared to be ok.” At that stage they did not know the extent of the damage and unfortunately they have been struggling to make good the damage in the hours of darkness, which inevitably will take longer.
Along with the rest of the fleet, they had been passing through ice for the last 48 hours, and concerns had been rising with each ice sighting that was made and plotted by each of the navigators. Field continued, “At one stage, thank God during daylight, we were charging through hunks of ice. I had a man on look out and directing me through the ice – we brushed when we passed some small bits. Its night time. We have had a shocking day, broken sails, battens, halyards. The boat’s a shambles, sails everywhere downstairs and the guys are sleeping in their survival suits. We are sleeping with our feet forward, that way, if we hit anything we shouldn’t damage ourselves too much.”
He then summed up, “A normal life looks very attractive at the moment. There will be amazing stories when we all get into to Rio. This is sport in the extreme.”
Kevin Shoebridge reported crew injuries on Tyco, when the boat took off down a wave, “While hoisting the jib the boat took off down a wave at 25 knots. A solid wall of water washed over the deck as the bow dug in. The jib and three of the crew ended back beyond the shrouds tangled with each other and the lifelines. Nipper [Guy Salter] took a knock to the head and has received stitches above the eye, nice fix up job by Jan [Dekker]. Brad Jackson has a badly bruised nose, hopefully not broken.” Large wind squalls and ice were his major concerns, “I now sit in the nav station looking for ice ahead and black squalls behind. We are constantly hitting speeds of over 27 knots and it feels like we are on a runaway train.”
djuice were praying for an ice-free night, “I am not looking forward to the night – I know it won’t be much sleep at all for anyone onboard. If it gets any worse than now (right now we have 44 knots of breeze) with even more ice, we will slow down a touch. We need to be able to make quick turns in case something appears in front of us,” wrote Knut Frostad.
The last few hours has been well summarised from Amer Sports One. Paul Cayard wrote of the excitement, the exhilaration of surfing downwind at high speeds, and the slightly surreal reality below decks, “as we surf down the waves we plough into the one in front and two feet of water comes down the deck at 25 knots. Everything is tethered forward so it can’t be swept into the [steering] wheels and break them. Inside it feels like we are hitting something constantly but it is just the bow hitting water at high speed.”
He continued writing about the ice, “bergers for breakfast, bergers for lunch, bergers for dinner, bergers for m