Boating Business – Volvo Ocean Race: Vestas Wind returns

Volvo Ocean Race: Vestas Wind returns

01 Jun 2015

‘Team Vestas Wind’ on the water on May 30 – photo: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

VOLVO RACE: ‘Team Vestas Wind’ shore crew chief Neil Cox breathed a huge sigh of relief as his boat was successfully returned to the water on May 30 for her first sail since grounding on an Indian Ocean reef last November.

“It’s no longer a boat building race,” he said, sporting the biggest smile in Lisbon. “We’re back in a boat race.”

The battle to return Team Vestas Wind to the Volvo Ocean Race has been one of the most absorbing stories of the entire nine month marathon event – and one of the most remarkable in its 41 year history.

After crashing onto a reef near the Cargados Carajos Shoals on November 29 during Leg 2, and damaging huge sections of the hull, many observers expected the team to call quits there and then on the campaign.

But the Danish based, global wind energy company Vestas, and its backers, including Powerhouse, were determined to salvage what they could. So they set a highly ambitious target of returning to the Volvo Ocean Race for Legs 8 and 9.

That involved recovering the boat as intact as possible from the reef and rebuilding the shattered Volvo Ocean 65 in four months; half the time it normally takes to construct a one design Volvo boat.

Part one was successfully completed when Team Vestas Wind made a moonlit arrival in the Portuguese capital. Part two was her first sail from Lisbon to Cascais and back on Saturday, May 30.

Mr Cox, skipper Chris Nicholson and the rest of the Team Vestas Wind crew, had the answer they wanted in the kind of testing conditions they will face during Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient, France: 25 knots of breeze with the boat’s canting keel bulb almost lifted out of the water.

Afterwards, Mr Cox was delighted to see how the boat had fared. “On Friday, getting the boat in the water was a huge thing in the sense that it was a milestone,” he explained.

“But I knew that all we had was a boat in the water. Now, we needed to sail it. The nervousness and anticipation around being fit for purpose focused on today – Saturday.”

Mr Cox and the rest of the team have paid fulsome tribute to the workers of the Italian Persico boatyard, who toiled night and day to put Team Vestas Wind with the other six boats on the Lisbon start line.

On June 6, Team Vestas Wind will rejoin the Volvo Ocean Race when she competes in the Lisbon In-Port Race, before taking on the 647nm Leg 8 to Lorient starting the following day.

via Boating Business – Volvo Ocean Race: Vestas Wind returns.

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