Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are gearing up for what could be the team’s toughest challenge yet - carrying out a three-day repair on their yacht Azzam in less than 48 hours.
Abu Dhabi are determined to get back on the start-line in Itajaí after suspending racing in Leg 5 due to hull damage and making the ambitious decision to ship Azzam directly.
Delays to the shipping of the boat from Puerto Montt due to extreme weather means an ETA into Itajaí of Thursday morning, two days later than first hoped.
Abu Dhabi have concocted a plan that could see them back in action for Saturday’s DHL In-Port Race Itajaí -- but everything must run smoothly if it is to work.
“We are right up against it," said team director Jamie Boag. "Some things we can control, some we can’t. Resins have cure times, there is a limit on the amount of people who can actually work in a combined space, and there are only a certain amounts of hours in the day.
“We are also conscious of the old adage 'more haste less speed'. At the end of the day the repair has to be seaworthy.
“Our team mates will be launching off to do battle with Mother Nature again in four days' time, and we need to sleep safe in our beds knowing that the repairs are as good as they can be.
“Will we make it? It won’t be for the lack of trying of that we are sure.”
Abu Dhabi’s skipper Ian Walker suspended racing and headed to Puerto Montt in Chile on April 4 after deciding that dramatic repairs carried out in the depths of the Southern Ocean were not strong enough to withstand the impending cyclonic weather forecasted at the time around Cape Horn.
The team discovered major structural damage to the left mid side of the boat, sparking a daring mid-sea repair job that included drilling more than 30 bolts into the bottom of the yacht while more than 1,700 miles from land.
“Being on a boat, hearing tearing noises from the hull and realising that you and your team mates are six days away from rescue, is something that none of us would want to experience,” Boag added.
“It was a race against Mother Nature and she won that battle. Not the war though.”
Azzam was loaded onto a container and shipped on April 10 with two shore crew on board to carry out whatever work they could, but heavy weather hampered both the repairs to the yacht and the progress of the ship.
Abu Dhabi’s shore crew, under the leadership of Mike Danks, now have almost everything in place in Itajaí to carry out the repairs.
“It will no doubt be a big push for the shore team to have the boat ready for the In-Port and leg start, but we are confident that the work will move ahead smoothly once the boat is safely in her cradle,” Danks said.
“We have a huge logistical task ahead of us to get the repair done inside an extremely tight timetable.
“However this is how the Volvo goes and many of us are used to it. The team is rested, determined and ready to go… all we need is Azzam.”
The DHL In-Port Race Itajaí starts at 1400 local time (1700 UTC).
Abu Dhabi have won two of the five in-port races to date, a feat matched only by overall race leaders Team Telefónica.
Leg 6 from Itajaí to Miami begins on April 22.
- 22 Apr 2012Fired-up PUMA lead Leg 6 push to Miami
- 22 Apr 2012Everything to play for on way to Miami
- 22 Apr 2012Abu Dhabi back in business
- 19 Apr 2012Abu Dhabi shore crew step up to greatest challenge yet
- 16 Apr 2012Abu Dhabi double up on boatbuilders for Azzam repair
- 15 Apr 2012Azzam steaming towards Itajaí for big race date