Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again

Published on January 16th, 2015

Team Vestas Wind Shore Manager Neil Cox reports on the task of transporting the damaged Volvo Ocean 65 to Italy for their hopeful return to the Volvo Ocean Race…

We have been incredibly fortunate over the past five weeks with many different situations confronting us that could have presented an insurmountable brick wall or an end to our campaign. At each one of these crossroads, we have found a way and/or we have also stumbled across unselfish, unconditional help that has made the task that little bit more manageable.

The trans-shipping in Malaysia was again just that…

Through Maersk Line, we were put in direct contact with the load master that we would be working alongside in Port Klang. Jagen and his team were exceptional and understood early on that this was not a normal lift for any of us, and that we also required the machinery and space to also undertake a few days’ work while waiting to be loaded on to the Maersk Stockholm to make our way to Genoa. The reality is the boat is still ballasted in a manner that we require to shift the balance point of what remains structurally sound of the yacht forward, to a position we can safely put a sling and control lines on to it for each lift.

Once off the ship and trucked away on the trailer, we were positioned safely out of the way to begin the three days of NDT (non-destructive testing) and brain storm methods of repair that we can present and then work with the Farr office and Persico to what becomes the final outcome for the repair of Vestas Wind.

We have certainly gathered enough data and information required for this, and so now we begin the path back to Persico.

We loaded on to the MV Stockholm as per schedule. She’s a big girl with a few containers to get across in height and width! The ships ETA into Genoa is around the 25th of January, and as the yacht is at sea, we are also working on the time line and plan of everything else that’s required to align with the arrival of the yacht to the yard as well as the repairs.

We have pulled our shore base containers out of race circulation and they are now in transit back from Abu Dhabi, making their way to Genoa for trucking to Persico, as is the container that we were lucky enough to keep in bond in Mauritius that has everything that the boys were able to recover from the reef and bring back on the fishing boat ‘Eliza’ after they did all they could with limited resources, and then from our second trip out there when we went to salvage the boat off the reef.

This container has the 1600kg piece of keel fin that we had to cut off the underside of the boat in it, as we were able to float it off the reef and across the lagoon on a raft built by suspending planks across two 18 foot fishing Dory’s, to get it back onto the aft deck of the ‘Gryphon’ (mother ship we took on our second trip to St Brandon).

Unfortunately, we could not salvage the rig in one piece, which was a decision that was not taken lightly as every inherent value we have instilled in us is to always keep the rig in one piece. Our goals out there were to bring back as much as we possibly could, especially if it could help expedite our re-entry into the race. With every decision made, the thought of trying to save the rig was forefront, but through every process required to get what we needed of the boat back, keeping the rig up was going to add additional risk to losing everything. We have all of the rig coming back to Persico and the intention is that we will strip this as best we can and utilize everything that we can take from it to go towards the new rig.

Our last hurdle at present to get the yacht back to Bergamo from St Brandon, is the trucking from Genoa to the boat yard: Right now we are in the process of trying to get all the correct trucking permits, vehicle pilots and highway access permission to complete the journey. The home straight, it seems, won’t be any easier than the previous 1000’s of miles and four weeks’ efforts, but we have good people working on it and hopefully all will fall into place as required to complete just the first milestone on our road to rejoining the Race.

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