Team Delta Lloyd suspends racing after discovering structural problems

Here is the release the team sent out late last night – shortly before arriving safely in Keelung, Taiwan.

On Tuesday January 27 2009, Team Delta Lloyd, sailing in fourth position, was forced to head to Taiwan with structural damage. During his routine check, David Pella from Spain discovered a crack in the bow bulkhead, that gives the hull its strength. The bow also showed delamination. At that moment, it blew 30 knots along with big waves. A few hours earlier, the mainsail got torn again. All of this resulted in the inevitable decision to take shelter. In about 5 hours, Team Delta Lloyd hopes to arrive in Keelung City in the northeast of Taiwan.
“We are very disappointed, as we really wanted to do well in this leg. But Chuny doesn’t take any risk in terms of the crew’s safety, which is definitely the best conclusion he can draw from the situation”, explained Media Crew Member Sander Pluijm (NED). “At the time we discovered it, we were sailing under storm jib and with three reefs in the main. Especially with the cold Chinese weather coming up, it was irresponsible to continue racing. We informed the coast guard and put the safety procedure into operation.” The crew has not officially suspended racing so far and awaits further inspection in Taiwan. There is no immediate danger, but regarding the rough and later freezing circumstances it is too risky to carry on.

Pluijm: “Due to the delamination, the hull is absorbing water, which softens the bow that might break by wave slamming. That is the biggest risk now.” Therefore the crew closed the water tight bow compartment. “And the pumps are ready to use, so we won’t sink”, said Pluijm.

The tough conditions of leg four take their toll. Telefonica Black already stayed behind in the Philippines and also the Green Dragons suffers from structural damage. Today, Ericsson 3 experienced similar problems to Delta Lloyd and set course to Keelung City as well. “As soon as we arrive, we will determine what needs to be done”, concluded Pluijm.

Meanwhile racing has resumed with some close action at the front of the fleet where Telefonica Blue is hanging on to a narrow lead over Ericsson 4 with 250 miles to go to the finish.

Just one mile behind her lies Puma, who despite having a broken boom is taking distance out of the overall race leaders. A message from the crew of E4 provided one of the reasons why.

“We have been without instruments since Cabo Bojeador (Northeast of Philippines), four days already which makes things more difficult to steer safely, especially at night,” wrote Horacio Carabelli a trimmer on the team.

Ahead of them Telefonica Blue has been without any weather in formation after their Sat dome was washed off the stern yesterday.

Further back in the fleet Green Dragon continues to limp towards the finish, determined to finish but mindful that another gale is on its way during the next two days. With a seriously damaged structure, Walker and his crew are keen to make the finish before the next pounding.


Green Dragon slogs upwind Make sure you see the last bit for a taste of just how steep backed the waves are – Imagine this at night!

Telefonica Blue in the rough stuff 

Ericsson 3’s navigator Aksel Magdahl – decribes conditions and the dliema surrounding the decisions whether to continue 

Puma breaks her boom 

Video as the forestay breaks on Green Dragon 

PODCAST – Hear just how concerned were the crews were before they set off

Volvo Skippers and navigators talk of their anxieties before the start of this brutal leg