VIDEO: Chinese gybes in the Southern Ocean

Published on March 24th, 2015

The Southern Ocean gave the Volvo Ocean Race fleet its roughest ride of the race in 12 dramatic hours, and four of the six boats suffered big hits.

Team SCA, Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE incurred accidental gybes from Monday to Tuesday (Mar 23-24) but all three crews escaped injury despite the boats toppling over.

Known as a ‘Chinese gybe’, it’s caused by the helm sailing too low at the wrong time, perhaps caught by a wave or gust, which swings the boat into a gybe. With the canting keel on the wrong side, the boat is pinned over and it becomes a scramble to restore stability and minimize damage to gear.

Damage was still being assessed in the aftermath of the incidents although Dongfeng appeared to have avoided any serious problems with the boat.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing also endured a drama-filled night, reporting a “night of two gybes: a wild one in pitch black with a massive wipe-out and then a ‘controlled’ one at 30 knots.”

The Chinese boat was first to reveal a Chinese gybe, with their Onboard Reporter Yann Riou writing: “It took two to three hours to sort out the mess, the boat was on her side, we took 300 litres of water in to the boat through an air vent.”

Then Team SCA were similarly upended at around 0500 UTC, the all-women team’s Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled reported.

“We ended up on the side for maybe two to four minutes before slowly getting back in the right position,” she told Race HQ.

The crew was assessing the damage and already starting to effect some repairs, Anna-Lena continued.

MAPFRE also reported a third Chinese gybe which happened around 2000 UTC. There were no immediate reports from the Spanish boat regarding damage.

All four boats were still able to continue sailing.

Report by event media.

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