Broken keel structure aboard Delta Lloyd

A broken keel structure finishes Team Delta Loyd in the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Dutch/Irish VO70 was halfway the Bay of Bengal on its way to Singapore, as the port side carbon structure around the ram broke. That happened on Thursday December 18 2008 at 19:30 hours local time. Skipper Roberto Bérmudeze de Castro (ESP) and his crew are safe. The boat doesn’t take water and continues sailing, without withdrawing from the third leg.
“We are currently putting up the J4, and we will sail eastward (upwind) with the keel centered using only the starboard ram”, reported navigator Matt Gregory (USA). “We should be able to sail at 7 knots. According to the boat designer it is safe to continue under sail and we are about 400 miles west of the northern corner of Sumatra. We have a fuel range of 450 miles and only enough food for 11 days at sea.” Meanwhile, Edwin O’Connor (IRL) is leading the process of fixing the keel.
Media Crew Member Sander Pluijm (NED) explains what happened two hours earlier: “We heard a big bang. Johnny and I thought the mast had come down. Everybody was shocked and we started searching below deck. It did not take long before we found the problem; the port side carbon structure that holds the ram was broken. At the moment, the guys are consulting external expertise to secure the keel.” It is too early to know the exact cause of the damage, but it is likely to be a failure of the hydraulic system. Pluym says explicitly that the race has not been abandoned yet: “The seal is still on the engine. We are looking into the possibilities of going the nearest harbor or to continue towards Singapore, which we prefer.”
Safety first
Skipper Roberto Bérmudez de Castro (ESP) reacted disappointed: “This is incredibly bad luck, but the safety of the crew is my first priority. It is my job to bring them home safely.” The shore team is ready to start fixing the damage, which should enable Team Delta Lloyd to line up for the In-Port Race on January 10 in Singapore.
In addition to title sponsor Delta Lloyd, the Dutch/Irish syndicate is also supported by Chieftain Group, Tommy Hilfiger, OHRA Verzekeringen, Port of Rotterdam, Discovery Channel, Weather News and Hemels van der Hart.