Sir Robin Knox-Johnston exhibits MacGyver skills to fix forestay problem

Published on March 3rd, 2014

The Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race, now in its ninth edition, announced February 24 the twelve, brand new designed 70 foot ocean racers built specifically for this edition, were experiencing failures to the forestay bottlescrews.

At the time of the announcement, the fleet was on Leg 9 of the race from Singapore to Qingdao, China.

A few days earlier Jamaica Get All Right suffered the first failure and diverted to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia. When PSP Logistics experienced the second failure, followed a few hours later by Derry~Londonderry~Doire, the entire fleet was instructed to stop racing and make its way to Hong Kong.

A spare Yankee halyard was used as a temporary forestay to stabilise the rig.

“There is clearly a fault with this part of the rigging and we are not prepared to take any risks with the remaining boats so far unaffected,” explained Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder and chairman of race organisers Clipper Ventures.

“There was no alternative. It wasn’t just a question of possibly losing a mast, it was a question of safety so we had to take action instantly,” said Knox-Johnston.

“There are always adjustments needed with new boats and little things that need looking at. It’s not the end of the world because the skippers were onto it very quickly.

“The crews were all prepared when they arrived into Hong Kong so we could get on with it very quickly. There is an advantage with a one design fleet that it makes it easier for us as one solution fits all boats.

“We suspect a lack of articulation at the base of the forestay is the main reason for this type of failure. The fitting is being replaced with Dyneema cordage. Dyneema is an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibre. It is known as the world’s strongest fibre and weight for weight is 15 times stronger than steel wire.”

This is the same system Knox-Johnston uses on his Open 60 racing yacht.

The nine of the yachts that had not exhibited a failure were fitted with the new forestay system, and restarted Race 9 on March 3. The three yachts with failures, PSP Logistics, Jamaica Get All Right and OneDLL, were arriving into Hong Kong the same day to carry out their forestay repairs, and would restart once completed

Source: Details provided by the event media

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