VOR overall leaders encounter keel problems and suffer damage after collision with whale 15/5/06

According to the latest VOR website report ABN AMRO One has suffered three incidents including keel problems and a collision that has resulted structural damage.

It seems that during the day yesterday during Leg 7 from New York, Mike Sanderson and team discovered the keel was not fully canting and inspection showed hydraulic fluid leaking through a seal and into the bilge. Sanderson commented: “We got the awful sinking feeling you get on a canting keel boat when you discover that we had dumped all the oil out of the system and were losing cant.”

Apparently the computer that controls the keel seemed to have hyper-extended a ram, allowing the oil to bypass a seal. Fortunately on board keel guru David Endean managed refill the system and get the keel canting fully once more.

Just when Team Amro thought things couldn’t get much worse there was a massive bang to the side of the yacht; they’d been hit by a whale. The collision stopped the boat dead in its tracks and completely severed off one of the carbonfibre daggerboards, as well as damaging the daggerboard box and the hull fairing.

Swift work by the crew once again saw the spare daggerboard put in place enabling ABN AMRO One to return to the racecourse in a desperate attempt to make up some of their lost time.

Commenting about the extent of damage to the yacht Sanderson said: “We’ve carried a spare daggerboard the whole race. And painfully tacked it every time we’ve gone on a long tack. It looks as though that might pay off. We’ve got the daggerboard in and are back up to 100 percent. The big question for us is what is the extent of the damage in the case. We can see some damage on the inside, but we’re not seeing any movement and it all seems to be fine at the moment.”

Elsewhere in the fleet, south of the Grand Banks, in 15kts of breeze Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) remains at the top leading Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul Cayard) by just four miles and ABN AMRO Two by nine. Movistar (Bouwe Bekking) is trailing the fleet by 34 miles in just 9 kts of breeze.