The VOR yacht Pirates of the Caribbean has suffered serious damage to the structural support of its keel

The VOR yacht Pirates of the Caribbean has suffered serious damage to the structural support of its keel. Paul Cayard and team who yesterday dropped to fourth place behind movistar reported the damage shortly after the race positioning showed a sudden drop in speed from 22kts of boatspeed to 14kts. The team, now 1,775 miles south-west of Freemantle, have significantly reduced sail area, and are currently sailing at 80 per cent of the boat’s full speed potential.

Chatting from the boat Cayard explained what happened:”Last evening [Wednesday] at 1845GMT the crew of the Black Pearl noticed cracks in the area of its keel support structure. Water was coming into the boat from those cracks and still is. The rate of water flow is manageable at this time.

“Sail was immediately reduced. Photos and video of the cracks were recorded and sent to the designer of the boat.

“Several hours were spent discussing this issue with the designers of the boat. A certain level of comfort was achieved and we proceeded, with reduced sail, east at 12 knots through the night.

“This morning we have reviewed the drawings of how this area was designed. It is not clear to us if this is structural damage or superficial. The fact that water is coming into the boat is not reassuring. We have a made a new video and photos in the daylight, and sent them off to the designers.

“We have run tests with zero, 20 and 40 degrees of cant while inspecting the area. Forty degrees is definitely alarming. The cracks open and close as the loads change and the water flow is more and less accordingly. Twenty degrees seems tolerable.

“It is not clear to us, and probably will never be clear to us or anyone, how serious this damage is until we reach land. We simply can’t properly inspect the area out here.

“On the weather side, the best winds to help us make the progress toward Australia are during the next 30 hours. We currently have winds from the north-west. Eventually, we will fall of the back of this system and be hit with less favourable winds from south-east.

According to Cayard there is danger in the team being out in the Southern Ocean for a long time so he’s decided to sail the boat up to 80 percent of its full with a maximum of 20 degrees of cant. Cayard also report that the crew are well but naturally they are taking all precautions necessary for any eventuality.

Elsewhere in the fleet Mike Sanderson and team aboard ABN AMRO1 have hit a zone of high pressure allowing teammates aboard ABN AMRO 2 to, predictably, close the gap. AMRO 2 is now just 172 miles off the leader’s transom following in exactly the same line but sailing a knot faster. Pushing hard, Seb Josse and the young team aboard AMRO will be keen to see just how much ground they can make on the leaders over the next 24 hours.