Telefonica Blue has broken its forestay

Spanish boat Telefonica Blue suffered a cruel blow last night when its forestay broke while leading the fleet through the Southern Ocean on day 20 of Leg five.

Skipper Bouwe Bekking notified Volvo Ocean Race headquarters at 17:40 GMT (5 March). The crew has set up a jury rig and has decided to carry on under reduced sail.

Bekking described the incident:

“We were ripping along, making great speeds in 15 knots of breeze, when all of sudden a loud bang was heard from the rig. My first instinct was to look up but I saw that the mast was still in one piece. A fraction later, the headsail dropped in the water.”

“Forestay broken. It was around 06:30 (17:30 GMT) in the morning, Jono (Swain) was driving and his quick reaction to bear away saved the rig. We put some halyards on the bow, to stabilize the rig, as it was sweeping like a spaghetti pole.”

“First thing was to get the big jib out of the water, which was a huge effort as it was filled with thousands of litres of water. Then we had to get the sail out of the headfoil, which is a carbon fibre piece which slots over the actual forestay. We were running dead downwind and worked on a system to use the stay again, so at least we had something to jury rig the mast.”

“We did a rig check and all seemed to be all right. I had been on the phone with our shore manager to go over eventual scenarios, regarding spare pieces. By then I knew that the actual forestay hanger was broken, this is a 30 mm stainless steel piece, and it had snapped right through the middle.”

Having fully assessed the damage and made good the temporary repair, Bekking confirmed that they had weighed up their options on whether to head back to New Zealand or carry on. Ultimately, the unfavourable weather models ruled out changing course for New Zealand. “The weather slot would have been a bad option time-wise, so we decided to carry on,” Bekking added.

“Let’s hope we get some downwind sailing, as there shouldn’t be any problems with that. But tight reaching and upwind will be slow, as we only can hoist a small jib on separate stay and of course we don’t want to sacrifice the mast in any way.”

A final decision on the next course of action will not be made until later this morning.

Ericsson 3, meanwhile was continuing to plough a lonely furrow to the north-east in the hope of hooking onto with the low pressure system to the first ice gate located south-east of New Zealand.

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