Bouwe Bekking's Telefonica Blue collides with object as the weather starts to build once more

“We had a collision with an object and there is chunk out of our bow,” writes skipper Bouwe Bekking. “Luckily it is in our so-called ‘crashbow’, which is about 40 cm thick, and especially designed with this in mind. The real structural bow is further back, so we aren’t taking on water.

“The other bad news is we are in a storm again, with gusts up to 45 knots. The main is lashed down to the boom, and we just have a small head sail up. The waves are even more confused than 48 hours ago, so we are taking it very easy – full survival mode again.

“Daryl Wislang/NZL hurt his shoulder, and we put him in a bunk. Families: don’t worry, he can make all movements, but we are just giving him rest. So that means two men down. I am getting a little better, but every word I type is a hassle, as I am sitting twisted, not good for my back at all. That’s it for now; we have another action night ahead of us.”

Meanwhile, Green Dragon is limping once again as the structure in the bow takes another blow following the repairs over the weekend.

“Since leaving harbour, things have not gone so well for us, writes skipper Ian Walker. “We proceeded very carefully into a wicked head sea and it wasn’t long before Neal (Neal McDonald/GBR) and I heard two dreaded cracks. We were inspecting the bow repair at the time and while the repair held firm, the bulkhead let go either side of it.

“Since then I have been agonising over how best to proceed. Do we go to Hong Kong, Xiamen or even Shanghai to make repairs? Do we go back to Subic Bay? Is it safe to cross the Straits in the current weather? Should we soldier on slowly and nurse the boat to Qingdao – maybe even get there without retiring and using the engine?

“Right now, we are doing just that, but more damage could rapidly change things. We are currently sailing in 37 knots with storm jib and trysail (it is very hard to nurse your boat in 30 knots!). If we get through the next 12 hours intact, conditions should very much improve for a couple of days before another ‘cold push’ (gales from the North) will pass over us. This will be hard for us to deal with as it will be bang on the nose.

“As always my crew have been fantastic. Everyone is fully focused on getting the Green Dragon to Qingdao. There is nothing we want more right now than to sail into Qingdao, however long it takes us. We have no more repair materials onboard, so we must prevent any further damage in order to do this.

“The Singapore to Qingdao leg of the Volvo Ocean Race will stick in my mind for some time to come- and we are only just over halfway!”

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