Five boats are currently in the cradles in Itajaí, being given a once over by the Boatyard team – but two, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, are still out on the ocean, and making their way north to Brazil.
The retirement of the two boats from racing means that Leg 7 officially ended when MAPFRE crossed the finish line on Monday morning local time – but still, there is a race against time to reach the sunny shores of South America, and for both, different reasons.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing are currently around 1000 nautical miles from Brazil and motoring under jury rig to Itajaí where they will receive their new mast and rig. Volvo Ocean Race veteran Damian Foxall is leading a delivery crew onboard.
“Our mast started life as a streetlamp before being discarded behind a shed on the Falkland Islands to corrode away in the grass,” he wrote in a blog from the boat on Wednesday.
“Left but not forgotten, it was dragged out from the undergrowth by Nick [Dana, boat captain] and local Falklander Paul Ellis from Martech Logistics. Measured up, fitted with mast foot, masthead fittings, shroud terminals and, ‘brand new’ rigging, the new mast stands eight meters above the deck - compared to our 30-meter racing rig.
“Three of the best fitting sails were chosen for the trip. An orange storm jib always carried on our Volvo Ocean 65, flies from the bowsprit to mast tip. The storm jib from Pelagic Exhibitions (run by former Whitbread legend, Skip Novak), also comes out of retirement. The suit is completed with an upside down trysail, the tack pulled up, and the head pulled aft. This new ‘mainsail’ is an optimized deck sweeping canvas, reminiscent of a scow and efficient upwind or on a reach.”
The blue boat left the Falkland Islands on Saturday, 7 April, where the Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew had diverted after a 30 March dismasting – and is expected to arrive into Itajaí around the 16 or 17 April.
"It has really been a collective team effort to try and get the boat back to Itajaí," said team director Mark Towill.
"Every little win feels like a small win. There are still a lot of things that need to go our way in order for it all to happen, but we are going to keep pushing and keep fighting."
Vestas 11th Hour Racing might have left the Falklands in their rear view, but for Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, the South Atlantic archipelago is a landmark point in their delivery to Brazil – and at midday on Wednesday 11 April, they had just passed the islands themselves, leaving around 1500 nautical miles to go to Brazil.
The crew diverted to Puerto Montt on Leg 7, Chile following the tragic loss of crewmember John Fisher overboard – and a delivery crew is completing the rest of the journey to Itajaí via the Magellan Strait, where the Hong Kong team plans to rejoin the race in time for Leg 8 to Newport.
“The Scallywags aren’t just a sailing team... we are a family with strong bonds who are always there for each other and look after each other, and our delivery team flew to the end of the Earth at a hour's notice,” Scallywag said in a Facebook post on 5 April.
The eight sailors delivering the boat to Brazil are Campbell Knox, Douglas Knox, Larry Jamerson, Matt Pearce, Peter Buckley, Peter Goldsworthy, Mariana Lobato and Willy Roberts.
“Scallywags will continue – we are now in a race against the clock to make the start in Brazil for the next leg,” said skipper David Witt on the team’s Facebook page.
“We are all hurt but we are not out – Scallywags never, ever give up! We will make the start, we will look after each other, we will finish the race and do the best job we can for all Scallywags in John’s memory and honour.
“On behalf of all the team I would like to thank all our supporters for all the messages of support it has helped us enormously in this difficult time.”
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