Brasil 1 dismasts and movistar suffers more keel ram problems 18/1/06

While Mike Sanderson and team aboard ABN AMRO One have continued to pull out a lead from Team ABN AMRO Two overnight, there’s more Volvo Ocean Race bad news. Brasil 1 has, this morning at 0630, dismasted 1,300 miles from Eclipse Island and movistar encountered a further keel ram failure last night.

According to early reports Brasil 1’s rig came down while sailing downwind in a west-north-westerly breeze of about 18 knots at a position of 40,47.61S, 89,18.36E and broke in three pieces. The crew, who are all fine, are currently creating a jury rig to enable them to head for Western Australia.

Torben Grael, skipper, commented: “The mast broke in three pieces after what seems to be a fitting failure at the lower end of the port V1 (vertical shroud). The turnbuckle eye broke horizontally across with half of the fitting remaining on the boat and half on the shroud. No other signs of failure have been found so far.”

Further up the fleet Bouwe Bekking and team discovered another hydraulic failure last night, similar to, if not identical to, the one they had on the way to Eclipse Island see previous story here . According to a recent e-mail from the boat it seems that the replaced O-ring in the port hydraulic ram broken down once again leaving the team to cant the keel to a maximum of 20 degrees – a method that ensures not too much force is placed on the cylinders. A disappointed Bekking commented:

“We can go of course to a single ram, but after what happened last evening to the Pirates, we want to use that as the last option. Who gives me a guarantee that our rod will not snap as well? These rods were replaced in Cape Town, after recommendation following what happened to Ericsson in Leg 1, but I guess they must have mixed up some material numbers, and made the rods out of recycled Coca-Cola cans.

“It is hard to believe; you lay your trust in a worldwide, well respected hydraulic company and this happens. This was supposed to be a yacht race, and not a survivor’s race, although it still has the first principals of yacht racing intact, you have to finish before you get to score points, so we are in fully in that mode (of thought).

“Comes of course the question, how did you manage to sail 20,000 miles before, without having real problems with the hydraulics? Answer, they were nearly double the weight, and working with a less pressurized system, so I changed them for a performance gain to be made.

“In Melbourne we will rip these ones out, and send them back to the manufacturer (MONEY BACK!) and put our stainless steel ones back in movistar. It is easy to calculate how many hours the boat will be slower, when sailing virtually around the world with the heavier rams, but at least you can sail the boat full throttle and can sleep a little better when off-watch.”

Team movistar still retains third place 155 miles behind the leader but by throttling back on the final sprint to Melbourne this gap will increase over the next few hours. Meanwhile fourth-placed Pirates of the Caribbean who also suffered from hydraulic keel ram failure is back in the race again 472 miles off the leader.