Harken Derm

Volvo Ocean Race: Tight Racing and Water Issues

Published on April 21st, 2015

(April 21, 2015; Day 3) – The fleet continues it’s way east-northeast with no big changes. They all have a heading of between 50 and 55 degrees, compared to the 70 they had this morning. At the moment the plan is clear for all; stay ahead of the cold front that is chasing them, as it is also moving east-northeast.

Tacking towards Cabo Frio is not yet an option as the Brazilian current, approximately 1 knot, would be against them. For now, east is best. The boats remain tight, with just 5 miles between the lead and the rear. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is in the lead with MAPRE and Team SCA within a mile behind, Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team are neck and neck less than a mile behind Team SCA.

The Emiratis managed to sail past Team Alvimedica at around 1600 UTC.
Ian Walker: “For 24 hours we have been stuck behind Alvimedica. We fought hard to break through their dirty wind and have also sailed extra unnecessary distance. The good news is that we have now managed to get past them and can start to sail our own race.”

Walker added, “Looking ahead it seems unlikely that there will be a meaningful tactical difference of opinion in the near term. We should all hopefully stay ahead of the front chasing us from the South and that means a long port tack East of the Brazilian current and offshore of the oil rigs until we connect with the trades and can tack onto starboard.”

Things for Dongfeng Race Team are not just about where they are and where their competitors are on the race course, as they are dealing with how to address the problem with the electric water-maker on board which has sprung a fatal leak in the casing. There is no seal on the high pressure side, but on the low pressure side there is a seal with a crack in it, leaking water.

It means that the sailors have been forced to resort to an emergency, hand-powered back up, a manual water-maker, which requires constant pumping to produce drinkable water, far from an ideal solution for the team, with almost three weeks of sailing before it reaches the North American destination. The manual water-maker requires some 35 liters of water and 15 minutes to produce a single liter.

With their onboard menu consisting almost solely of freeze-dried food, which must be rehydrated to be edible, the potential seriousness of this latest set back should not be underestimated. Three to four bottles of water are required to rehydrate a freeze-dried meal, each of the nine crew members eats three meals a day.

“Each can ‘survive’ on a single bottle of water a day. That’s 18 bottles, so 4.5 hours of pumping per day just to get by.” And that’s a conservative estimate, according to their Shore Manager, Graham Tourell. “No water-maker is a major problem,” he explains. He estimates that, in reality, the sailors ‘may need to pump for eight to nine hours per day to make enough water.’

The crew knows what the problem is, shore team is waiting for confirmation from the boat but they should have attempted a repair on the membrane pressure vessel. The plan was to apply some glue and then wrap the end of the vessel, where the leak is, in carbon fiber laminate, to seal it.

Leg 6 (5,010 nm) Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 4600.1 nm Distance to Finish
2. MAPFRE, Iker Martínez (ESP), 0.1 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 0.7 nm DTL
4. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 1.3 nm DTL
5. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 1.3 nm DTL
6. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 5.1 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start

Race websiteTrackingScoreboardVideos

Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. The sixth leg, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, USA (5,010 nm), began April 19 with an ETA of May 6.

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