Race’s catalogue of carnage continues

Portsmouth skipper Juan Coetzer
Portsmouth skipper Juan Coetzer

Millions invested into yacht harbour

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There are a couple of local round-the-world yachtsmen this week perhaps pondering the truth of Nietzche’s musing ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’.

Portsmouth’s Juan Coetzer has the most reason, having had two injured crew medevaced from his Clipper Race yacht Geraldton Western Australia after it was hit by a huge Pacific wave off the coast of California, USA.

The two crew are both expected to make a full recovery, and the yacht will be back on the start line on April 14 for the next leg of the race from Oakland to New York.

Meanwhile, Warsash skipper Ian Walker is again consigning his Abu Dhabi-sponsored Volvo Race yacht Azzam to the deck of a container ship, having pulled out of the leg from New Zealand to Brazil with serious hull damage.

Walker made the decision after diverting to the Chilean port of Puerto Muntt, where Azzam joined New Zealand entry Camper, which had also been forced into harbour with structural failure.

Out on the water, bad became worse on Wednesday for the Volvo Race as Groupama, the French entry who had been leading the leg, became the third yacht to lose her mast.

The latest failure has added to a catalogue of carnage which has seen all of the six yachts taking part suffer serious damage of one kind or another – and leaves only two currently racing.

On Thursday, race CEO Knut Frostad issued a statement expressing his concern, and hinted at significant changes for future events.

He said: ‘It is not acceptable that in a race like this we have so many failures.

‘It is not unusual for boats to suffer problems, and sailors and shore teams are used to having to deal with some issues with their boats, but this has been on a bigger scale than in the past.

‘It’s important that we don’t leap to any conclusions about why these breakages have happened.

‘Some of them are clearly not related. However, we will take the current issues into account as we make decisions on rules and technology we will be using in the future.

‘We have already put in a lot of work, discussing the boats and the rules we will use in the future, and we expect to announce a decision before the end of the current race.’