Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were still doggedly battling the elements on Monday to reach their destination in Itajaí, south-east Brazil, more than 12 hours after the leaders had finished Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Rarely in the 41-year history of the race can a team have worked so hard to clinch points for fifth place.
A week after crashing to their side in a Chinese gybe and damaging a key sail, the all-women crew found themselves toppled again after colliding into an unidentified object in the south Atlantic.
That did some damage to their port rudder, yet their run of bad luck, which denied them a possible finish alongside leg winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) on Sunday night, was not over yet.
They suffered two further ‘hits’ in the dark – mercifully, causing little damage – before continuing on their way.
By 0940 UTC on Monday, they had just over 400 nautical miles (nm) of the 6,766nm leg to sail, with an expected time of arrival in Itajaí of 1600 UTC on Tuesday.
Team SCA’s Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled (SWE), summed up one hell of a tough day at the office for the first all-female team to contest offshore sailing’s most challenging race:
“As is so often the case, when you least expect something to happen it does and BOOM! we hit something with the port rudder,” she wrote in her daily blog from the boat.
“The boat turned around, tacked and capsized, and once again, we were on our side. The crew managed to right the situation quickly without any further damage, except on the rudder that got hit.
“A two-hour long process of surveying and attempting to restore the damaged parts followed before we could continue our journey towards the finish line again.
“A few hours later we had one more hit, this time in the keel – and before sunset another one. What are the odds?”
At least they had the consolation of knowing that they weren’t alone in their misfortune during the longest and toughest leg in the 12th edition.
Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) were forced to pull out last week after the top of their mast fractured and a delivery crew is currently nursing the boat to Itajaí where they will have a new rig fitted.
It will be a race against time to be ready for the start of Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, which departs from Itajaí on April 19.
Meantime, victors Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were celebrating Sunday’s epic Leg 5 victory, which leaves them seven points clear at the top of the standings, and front-runners for the IWC 24-hour Speed Record Challenge, having covered 551nm during the stage from Auckland to Brazil.
And there was more good news for skipper Ian Walker, with the crew’s sole Emirati, Adil Khalid (UAE), once more back to full fitness having missed the previous two legs due to illness.
“As part of my recovery plan, I stayed on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where I had a rigorous fitness regime. I did six hours in the gym every day and had a nutritionist and physical trainer on hand to monitor my progress,” said Khalid.
“It was tough, but I’m now fully cleared for action and right back up to the levels I have to be at to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.”
– VOR Media