Team Delta Lloyd back on water after repairs

Delta Lloyd back on water - Volvo Ocean Race

Team Delta Lloyd are back on the water and sailing four days after their yacht’s hull was damaged during the in-port race on Saturday.

Ger O’Rourke’s preparations for Saturday’s first leg start were dealt an untimely blow on Alicante Bay when Team Russia speared bow-first into Delta Lloyd during the start of the second race.

It left a sizeable puncture hole towards the back end of the hull on the starboard side, but, after an intensive repair operation, the boat returned to the water at 0930 this morning for a two-hour sail.

'It wasn’t what we needed to be honest,' said O’Rourke. 'But we are on the water and getting stuff ticked off the list.

'We managed to test some sails – our fractional zero and a full zero – and we got to tune the rig as well. The rig wasn’t 100% but now it is and we’ve put all the sails up and down.'

O’Rourke’s shore team now have some minor alterations to make to their set-up, but the skipper says he is happy with their progress ahead of the 6,500-nautical mile trip to Cape Town.

'We have about 20 hours of work ahead to get the spreader patches on, but everything is looking good,' he said. 'We are about to stack the boat, clean the boat for the last time and get some of the last repairs done.

'The aerial wasn’t on perfectly and we are just repairing that, and we are also getting some of our navigational equipment wired up.

'We’ve got a bit on, but hopefully we can give the crew an early night tonight and a day off on Friday.'

The team are currently weighing up whether to have another sail on Thursday morning.

Team Russia, meanwhile, have nearly finished repairs to the damage they sustained in the collision.

Their yacht suffered a cracked spray rail on the starboard side when they hit the committee boat in the immediate aftermath of their tussle with Delta Lloyd.

The boat is expected to return to the water this evening with skipper Andreas Hanakamp hoping to do some more sailing before the leg start. 'We’d like to go out and possibly have a small sail on Thursday morning to check the reefs,' he said. 'The spray rails have filled up. They are just cleaning the surface and fairing it and painting it.'

Ericsson Racing Team have confirmed Norway’s Eivind Melleby will take the place of injured trimmer Martin Stromberg on Ericsson 3 for the leg one race to Cape Town.

The Swede, 26, suffered a hand injury in August during practice at the team's training base in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, but is expected to be fit for the leg two charge to India.

'It's unfortunate that Martin suffered his hand injury,' said skipper Anders Lewander. 'He's trained with us for a long time.'

Melleby, a 36-year-old Star sailor from Oslo, has raced a number of one-design boats, including the Star, Melges 24, Laser and Europe, winning a bronze medal at the Laser World Championship in 1995.

'Eivind helps strengthen our team,' Lewander added. 'He's a pure downwind helmsman, and in our analysis of leg one we felt that would be important.'

Melleby joined the Nordic crew last month for the delivery from the Canaries to Alicante, host port for the race start, and is relishing a return.

'I like the Volvo Open 70, it's all about feeling,' he said. 'I did as much driving on the delivery as possible to get a feel for the boat. It was easier than anticipated. The boat behaved really nice.'

Meanwhile, the weather forecasters are predicting some adverse conditions during the latter part of the week.

North-easterly gusts in excess of 30 knots are forecast on Thursday, while heavy rain and slightly gentler easterly winds are expected throughout Friday.

Finally, PUMA Sailing has partnered with Bladerider International to showcase a duo of fully PUMA-branded foiling Moths at all 11 Volvo Ocean Race stopover ports.