Bruno Peyron and team aboard the giant catamaran Orange II are currently heading for shelter to fix cracked prop shaft
Since the beginning of last night, a strong vibration amplified enough to worry the crew aboard Orange II on their Jules Verne record attempt and at 0700 this morning, Bruno Peyron decided to stop the boat, off Santo Antao Island (north-west of Santo Vincente) and send a crew member for an inspection under the hull.
Vladimir Dzalba-Lyndis, a professional combat diver, went underwater with spotlights and confirmed the origin of the vibration. The fairing which protects the propeller shaft (S Drive) showed a crack through which water gets in at high speed. The boat’s speed generates serious vibrations, and the water pressure threatens to provoke a delamination of the hull.
There is no way the crew can carry on racing in such conditions, and after discussion, the decision was taken to try and find a sheltered place to repair the damaged part. They will head towards the volcanic island of Fogo, located south of the Cape Verde archipelago – 90 miles away.
Bruno Peyron said: “We do not want to go all the way to the Equator like that, because we would risk more severe damage. The boat is not in danger at the moment, the breakage is a minor one, but if we cannot fix the problem ourselves, then it’s the end of the race for us. We’ll take shelter under the Fogo volcano (14°51 N – 24°30 W) and try to repair from underwater. But what are the odds? And how long will it take? We do not have any answers to give at the moment. We hope to reach Fogo Island before nightfall in order to start working and get a better idea of the chances we have to be back in the race. One thing is for sure, we’ll fight till the end, because we have a hard time accepting that our journey can end this way. Unfortunately, we won’t know until tomorrow, and meanwhile the clock is ticking…”
The boat’s designers were contacted as soon as the breakage was identified. They have given Bruno Peyron the necessary data and advice. Yann Penfornis, architect with the Multiplast yard, explained that two solutions could be envisaged: “If the S Drive fairing is still in place, then the crack should be repaired by applying a ‘strapping’ ? which means stretching a wide strap saturated with epoxy resin over the crack to consolidate the whole area. If the fairing has been torn off, then it will be necessary to cut it as close to the hull as possible. The main difficulty for such an operation is to find enough air capacities (it can last several hours). Unfortunately, there is no compressor onboard to refill the three diving bottles. The second difficulty is to saw off the aluminium S Drive (19 mm thick in its frontal area) underwater with plain handsaws.” Everyone is up on deck preparing this commando-like operation, which could take place tonight or tomorrow morning.