Last night, Ericsson was reaching at 20 knots, in 22 knots of wind, when a failure occurred in the keel movement system. The boat had to be stopped to allow the crew to inspect the damage. Ericsson is now sailing towards Cape Town, the leg one finish of the Volvo Ocean Race, under reduced sail to avoid overloading the system. The crew is in no danger.
“We were reaching on starboard tack at a speed of 20 knots,” explains Ericsson skipper Neal McDonald. “The boat was fully loaded, but these were normal sailing conditions. At 0045 GMT we suddenly heard a loud bang. We immediately stopped the boat and took the mainsail down to investigate the problem. There was no visible damage, but it was obvious that the keel was flopping from side to side! After a few minutes work, Richard Mason managed to lock the keel in one safe position. We are now sailing towards Cape Town in a much reduced capacity.”
The details of the reasons of Ericsson’s keel problems are not yet known, and the team will investigate the system thoroughly once the boat arrives in Cape Town. As one crew member summarises: “We are in no danger, but we are very annoyed because we have lost the opportunity to sail the boat properly.”
Leading the fleet, ABN AMRO ONE (Mike Sanderson) and the youngsters on the second team boat ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse) now have less than a 1000 miles to sail to Cape Town, and, based on their current speed, the estimated finish will be in the early hours of Thursday morning, while third place Brasil 1 could finish later that night. Sunergy and Friends still have 2539 miles to run and their arrival into Cape Town is looking like 7 December, but they are still too far away to predict this with any accuracy.
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