Tyco hangs onto a slim lead as the Volvo fleet heads south into the Southern Ocean

Tyco hangs onto a slim lead as the Volvo fleet heads south into the Southern Ocean as illbruck struggles to make up lost ground. John Kostecki reports from onboard illbruck:

We had a difficult night on illbruck after the start in Cape Town. The fleet was all in sight as we all were heading south past the Cape of Good Hope. We were changing to our smaller heavy air jib as the wind built to 30-35 knots. Then, all of sudden, we noticed that the boat was not going very well and felt sluggish. The bow seemed to be lower than normal and started taking waves more frequently. Rosco [Ross Halcrow] went to check the bow hatch, to see if we had a water problem. He came back on deck with a fright. He could not open the hatch because of the amount of water in the forward tank ahead of the watertight bulkhead.

The boat got slower and slower and then we could not keep her going anymore. We went into irons as we were trying to figure out why the bow was sinking so fast. We eventually found out an inspection port on the bow just behind the headstay came off somehow. The entire forward tank was full of water and we had to stop racing. We dropped the jib and moved all of our gear below and above deck as far aft as possible to stop the bow from sinking further.

After trying several different modes of sailing we eventually found that backing down was the best to keep the bow area out of the waves. We started the emergency pump and started getting the water out and bailed with buckets from on deck. It took nearly 2 hours to control the situation before we could start racing again. This all took place at night in 30-35 knots as our competitors sailed away.

It was definitely a frightening moment for us especially since we did not know why the water was coming in so fast … did we have a hole in the hull below or near the waterline? We had thoughts of going back to shore to smoother calmer waters but fortunately we were able to control the situation out at sea.

Tonight we expect the winds to lighten off so hopefully we will be able to make a good solid repair. Since this situation occurred we had to have a crew member constantly watching the situation forward. We have had a few injuries because the boat is constantly pounding off of waves and being in the bow area is no easy thing in these conditions. Waffler [Stu Bettany] got tossed and hit his forehead on the underside of the deck … he now has a few stitches in his forehead. Jamie [Gale] hurt his back as he got flung to leeward on a bad wave. Everyone else is fine, just a little tired and beaten up from the ocean.

We are now back racing around 20 miles behind the leaders. We are very lucky to come out of last night with only losing 20 miles. Hopefully we can stay in touch and get back into the race.

The weather situation currently indicates that a sub-tropical high is sitting over the fleet which is experiencing winds The between 12 and 18 knots. As a band of strong westerlies slowly edges northwards to meet the fleet, we can expect to see boat speed increase and the front-runners pull away from those behind.

The leaderboard currently stands as follows:

1. Tyco

2. djuice


4. Amer Sports

5. SEB

6. News Corp

7. Amer Sports Too

8. illbruck