Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking has filed a redress request after starting leg 19-hours late

Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking has filed a Request for Redress with the Race Committee over two incidents that occurred at the start of Leg 5.

Telefonica claims that the start area was set in water that was too shallow for the VOR70’s to navigate safely. Media reports at the time stated that Telefonica Blue had struck an uncharted rock. The boat had hit the bottom of Fuchan Bay (Qingdao) just before the start, while sailing in the starting area. The skipper claims the shoal was uncharted.

Telefonica Blue then made the decision to return to harbour to check for damage before starting the 12,300nm leg. Bekking claims that the VOR70 was unable to re-enter the harbour at Qingdao for several hours because the water was too shallow, causing further delay.

In the end she started 19 hours late. It is not known what amount of redress Bekking is claiming. One of the conditions in claiming redress is that it must be through “no fault of her own” meaning that Telefonica Blue must be able to show that poor seamanship and navigation in this instance was not a contributing factor.

While the yachts would be fitted with depth sounders, these are not forward facing, and it is therefore not possible to avert a ‘terrain closure’ if the bottom is shoaling suddenly.

It is not known the extent of the redress, if any, that would be given. Normally the time taken for the repair would be sufficient, however in the Whitbread Round the World Race redress was given on the basis of the effect of the time lost, which was projected into an on the water position on the basis of weather patterns encountered – had the competitor been say 19 hours further down the track.

With the use of software such as PredictWind and Expedition, these sort of calculations are relatively simple and accurate. However Telefonica Blue did also sustain some forestay damage which affected her course options and this would complicate any redress calculations.