Dongfeng woes continue in Volvo leg to Abu Dhabi

Just over 100 nautical miles south of Mauritius – but no time for a holiday report Dongfeng Race Team in its continuing battle with hardware.

“We won’t be able to  relax until the end of the leg, it’s the kind of problem that can end our race. Its happened a load of times in offshore racing.”

For Dongfeng the added stress is going to be whether the repair to the mast track will hold. After losing a few miles due to having a guy up the mast all afternoon yesterday, this was compounded by having a little less wind behind the leading trio to push them back to 9 miles from the leader. Looking at the tracker overnight, the 3 boats behind have had it much harder – SCA stuck in very unstable conditions, and this morning Vestas and Alvimedica already in a wind shift that has forced them to the left of the direct route they would prefer to be taking.

For the determined men of Dongfeng though, they are going to have this mast track problem, and the threat that it repeats again, hanging over them all the way to the finish. Not ideal. But part of the challenge! Fingers crossed for our boys during the storm that is coming later today, as they will certainly have to take a reef or two to reduce the size of the mainsail in these stronger winds – and this will be the real test of DIY superstar Kevin Escoffier’s work yesterday up the mast. Not the easiest of repairs to do even on land – but he did it hanging from a rope move around half way up a mast!

As soon as we discuss the subject of the mast track, there is a reasonable amount of optimism. But a reasonable amount only, and mixed in with some bitterness. Because with a guy up the mast for an afternoon is neither good for the guy (Kevin !), or our performance. A few more miles given to our competitors – here you go have a present!

Now above our heads in the mast is a threat hanging over us, that we won’t be able to get rid of before arriving in Abu Dhabi. Because if the track came away once, we know it can do it again. So we try not to think about it, concentrate on the race, which will take us by Mauritius tonight, before we meet the famous depression that everyone has been talking about for a few days now.

Mauritius, paradise island, dream holiday destination. Just next to us. But it seems just so far away!

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