Race organisers and team are still discussing what needs to be done before the boat is given go-ahead
Team Russia arrived in Stockholm in the latest stage of their bid to qualify for a return to racing. The team suspended racing in Singapore at the end of leg three because it lacked the funds necessary to continue. ( Read previous story here ).
Following a change to the team’s management and sailing team, they are now hoping to be declared eligible to take a place on the start line for the leg 10 sprint to St Petersburg. But to achieve that, their boat must be examined to ensure it still complies with the class and race rules – while the crew must also satisfy a number of criteria.
Earlier this week, Race Director Jack Lloyd explained: “We haven’t seen the boat since Christmas when they left Singapore so we have no idea of the state of the electronics or the measurement condition of the boat. She has to comply with the rules, like any other boat. All other boats have to maintain the boat in measurement trim and their crew has to qualify. They have to go through that process.
“Their old crew has disbanded so probably about eight of them – if they want to take a full crew – have to take a safety course. We have got to do medicals and a little bit of other training, plus we have to get the boat back into measurement trim and get all the electronics done.”
Discussions are currently going on between the team and the race organisers to ascertain what needs to be done before the boat is given the go-ahead to end its self-imposed suspension and return to racing.
Stig Westergaard, who has taken over the role of skipper from Andreas Hanakamp, admitted the team faces a struggle in order to meet the regulations ahead of Thursday’s start.
“We have a lot of issues on our hands before we can make it to the start line,’ he said after arriving shortly after 1900 local time. ‘We just have to work very hard. The boat has been in the water for six months and we don’t really know what that has done to the measurement situation. It hasn’t been maintained very well the last couple of months. Right now we have a big list of tasks and we just have to get on with it.”
Of the previous sailing team, only Westergaard and founder Oleg Zherebtsov intend to be onboard. The skipper revealed that watch leader Nick Bubb was also flying into Sweden to take part.
Westergaard believes taking the team back to the home of its owner would be a fitting way to wrap up the campaign: “It is a good way to close the door, bringing it back to Russia. Bringing the boat to this stage has been one of the toughest jobs I have ever done. It has been an absolute nightmare dealing with the issues we have had.”
“A lot of people have been asking me in the last two months ‘are you nuts?’ I have always taken on tasks that other people think are impossible. So far it has been quite successful and I hope I can get to the line here and put another tick on that box.”
Under the race rules, a team can suspend racing and return provided they meet the set criteria that govern the event. The practice is most usually used in a leg whereby a team can receive outside assistance to help effect repairs in return for a time penalty (all the teams except Ericsson 4 and PUMA have taken this option at one stage or other during the race so far).