Alex Thomson reports as Hugo Boss heads for Cape Horn.
Hugo Boss (departing Wellington after pit-stop) Photo: Chris Cameron/DPPI/Barcelona World Race
'Finally we have got our speeds back up again, and are now racing along at 14 knots, keeping pace with Virbac, with our sights set on rounding the Horn in the next five days or so. We have been struggling with some difficult wind shifts since we left NZ so its great to finally get the boat moving again.
'This part of the southern ocean hasn't quite lived up to its reputation and although we have been forced further north than normal we have rarely seen more then 20 knots of wind and the downwind sails have stayed in their bags.
'It has been the complete opposite to the southern indian ocean where the wind and waves were fairly brutal causing widespread damage amongst the fleet. We had our fair share of problems hence our stop in Wellington and we could have easily had a rig problem like so many of the others if our resident rigger Scott had not noticed in port that one of our spreader roots had managed to undo itself.
'The biggest reason to stop was our rudder problems and with this we really had no choice. To sail through the southern ocean not knowing when the rudders would kickup was at the least stressful and worst downright dangerous. If I did not know 100 percent before we got to Wellington I knew we had done the right thing when one of our rudders kicked up while being towed at six knots into the marina!
'The other issue was the rudders moving in their cassettes and the problem here was that the front edge of both cassettes were cracked allowing them to open under load and allow the blade to move. Clifford our boatbuilder saw this problem off and in 48 hours we had two perfectly working rudders again. David Minors from B&G fame kindly flew down from Aukland to get our pilots up and running again, an imense difference I can tell you. All of the other smaller problems were sorted and we left Wellington in as good a shape as the start of the race in Barcelona.
'Wellington has all the facilities and a plethora of helpful skilled hands that make it perfect for a pitstop, from sailmakers, engineers, rigger and one point we were even considering using inflatable bags to lift the back end of the boat clear of the water so we could avoid being lifted. Well done Wellington and thanks to all that helped.
'Capey and I enjoyed the break, more mental than physical I think as although both of us had nice hotel rooms both of us struggled to sleep well and in fact slept better once back onboard ! I guess our heads were still in the race. We did however enjoy the break from freezedried, I myself managed to visit the burger bar four times in 48 hours, not healthy for the body but the taste buds were rejuvinated! And a good visit to the supermarket has meant that a week after our restart we are only just back on the freezedried.
'We managed to make some good gains on Virbac following our restart but now the favour is reversed and our route to The Horn is blocked by a ridge of high pressure. We can only travel as fast as it does and although it was difficult to watch virbac sail away, we stopped and they did not. we are now to get to the horn and the turn to the north, something that both Capey and I are very much looking forward to. For sure there will be opportunity to catch up, we will just bide our time.'