Volvo Ocean Race reports that Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have left Auckland to rejoin the Volvo Ocean Race fleet after completing repairs to their yacht Azzam around 12 hours earlier than expected.
The Abu Dhabi shore team worked through the night to fix structural damage in the bow of Azzam – and just 12 hours after arriving back in Auckland the sailors were headed back out to sea.
Ian Walker’s crew must now play catch-up to rejoin their five rivals, who at the latest position report were around 200 nautical miles into the 6,700nm leg to Itajaí in Brazil.
'It puts us in a different weather situation to the rest of the fleet and so we need a bit of luck,' Walker said as his crew prepared to slip lines in Auckland.
'Twenty four hours could turn into 48 hours or 72 hours or alternatively we could sail up behind them if the weather goes our way.
'We’re not just going to sail up behind them by being faster and smarter – we’re going to need a break from the weather.'
Walker and his team made the call to head back to port after Azzam suffered structural damage to the bulkhead that holds down the heavy-weather J4 sail around six hours after Sunday’s Leg 5 start.
As soon as the boat arrived back into port, the shore team jumped into action, working through the night to complete the repair around 12 hours earlier than expected.
'The shore crew have done a great job,' Walker said. 'Not just the boat builders but everyone from the girls in the office to the riggers, the sailmakers.
'Everyone’s been at it all night and it’s not much fun down below at the moment.
'It’s 60 degrees inside the boat curing the bulkhead and they’re still at it.
'They’ve done a great job and that’s enabled us to get out of here quicker and that keeps us closer to the fleet.'
The repair job puts Abu Dhabi around 24 hours behind the rest of the fleet which could prove crucial as the boats head towards the Southern Ocean.
'Nobody wants to cross the Southern Ocean a day behind the other boats, so there’s no doubt that’s on people’s minds,' Walker added.
'On the other hand we’ve turned this around quickly and we’re very grateful to the shore crew for that.
'Once we get sailing everyone will get back into the routine and start crossing off the miles and hopefully we’ll get a break.'
Abu Dhabi will resume racing once they pass the point at which they suspended racing yesterday.
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12:55 AM Mon 19 Mar 2012GMT
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2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race
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