Abu Dhabi, missed the Pro-Am racing today, in Auckland, after her mast was removed from the boat for further work on her rig.
In the end, she didn't miss much, with one race abandoned, and the other sailed in a new sea breeze, after officials waited for two hours for a wind in which to race.
Azzam’s mast was lifted out in Auckland with just two days to go until the start of Leg 5 on Sunday (NZT) when the six teams set sail for Itajaí in Brazil.
Skipper Ian Walker said safety was paramount going into Leg 5.
'We’re going into the Southern Ocean and we don’t want to take any chances,' Walker told volvooceanrace.com
'Yesterday we found something we weren’t quite happy with so we have investigated it overnight, talked to the rigging manufacturer back in Europe and made the decision first thing this morning to take the mast down and do a bit of preventative work.
'I’m fully confident we can make the repair and it’s not something that’s going to affect our rig tune.
'I’m very disappointed not to do the Pro-Am race, they’ve been good fun and very successful and the guests look forward to them.
'It’s very regrettable and I hope we can make it up to those guys in some way but our main responsibility is towards the safety of the boat and the crew in the Southern Ocean and that leaves us no choice but to make sure everything’s as bullet proof as possible.'
At this afternoon's media conference Walker said that the whole rig had been tested using ultrasound four days ago, however a standard end of day rig check had found a visible crack in the standing rigging, and the decision to replace was made.
Abu Dhabi finished fifth on Leg 4 into Auckland, and has been working to the same schedule as ther other boats. Team Sanya were forced to miss the Practice In Port race yesterday, after some new rigging was delayed in delivery. Abu Dhabi sailed in the Practice Race yesterday in 5-10kts of wind when full racing rigs were used, and in fact won that race after coming from behind Telefonica and sailing through the overall race leader to leeward.
The Practice race was used by many teams to test new sails and gear. The race was also missed by Puma Ocean Racing, but they competed in the Pro-Am races sailed today, without apparent incident.
by Richard Gladwell
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2:33 AM Fri 16 Mar 2012GMT
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