Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Good Shape - Just Waiting For A Break In The Weather

Photos Team Russia
Winds gusting over 50 knots and heavy rain battering Team Russia’s base in Cape Town over the last 48 hours has put plans to return Kostaka to the water on hold until late tomorrow. Although frustrating for shore team and crew, Kostaka is in good shape for Saturdays start to Cochin on Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Shore team manager Tim Dean, has not always had the easiest time in this race, but the Cape Town stopover has been a pleasant change for the Team Russia shore manager.

The Englishman was repeatedly forced to bury his head in his hands in the 2005-06 race as his team, Ericsson, limped across the finish line with keel damage at the end of leg one before finishing the second on a container ship after another breakdown.

To top it off, he was then shocked by lightning while inspecting the mast in Melbourne – he was the team’s rig manager – and endured a trip to hospital.

Now, however, with Team Russia safely in port his job list for this stopover includes no major repairs. “It’s great,” he said. “The last race was all fire engines and big yellow helmets, but we are here in really good shape. A pleasant surprise.

“We have come out of it remarkably unscathed; it’s a very small list. No major bits and pieces at all. Steering platform wanted to be 100 mm taller, little bit of loose ware on rudder quadrants and just a few small items like that.

“I get a list off the boat every five days from Nick Bubb (our boat captain) and you soon get a good idea whether you are heading for trouble or if it will be relatively easy. After the second list came in I was showing it to our boat builder and just keeping fingers crossed. We were pleased with how she held up. It could have been a lot worse.”

The team originally planned to step the mast on Wednesday afternoon but gusts well over 50 knots across the deck at that time meant all crane operations were cancelled. The forecast indicates the wind is abating tomorrow so stepping has been rescheduled for late afternoon on Thursday before returning Kosatka to the water that evening.

Much of the emphasis around the docks has been placed on getting the boat as close to perfect as possible ahead of a series of short stopovers. Dean believes it is impossible to get any of the yachts back to “100%” after a leg as intense as the 6,500-nautical miles from Alicante, but he is happy with the boat’s condition.

“You never achieve 100% for these boats,” he said. “There will always be a hundred small items on the list and you have to prioritise them, like painting the heads. In the grand scheme of things, some of the little items just aren’t going to get done in the time available.

“But she is pretty close and soon we will blow the tyres up and wash the windows and she’ll be good to go. It was a lot better than it could have been.” More on Team Russia click here!