David 'Ollie' Oliver is the pitman aboard Victoire, the yacht having been announced as the overall winner of this year’s race and now the holder of the Tattersall’s Cup.
For Ollie this was a particularly sweet victory that finally exorcised the demons that have plagued him since missing out on Secret Men’s Business 3.5’s victory in 2010, through injury.
Not that this victory came easily for Victoire which experienced a heart stopping drama just south of Bass Strait; an event which demonstrates that good crew work can not only turn a dangerous situation into a swift recovery, but it can lead to the creation of a whole new manoeuvre.
Victoire was speeding south at 17 knots under spinnaker in 25 knots of northeasterly, just south of Bass Strait, when she was caught by a wave and swung into a Chinese Gybe.
Ollie takes up the story from here,
'I’ve had some good crashes in my time, but this one was the best ever.'
'We Chinese Gybed and we had the canting keel basically locked in (on the wrong side, holding the boat over) and so we had the boat vertical; we had two guys pinned down in the corner at the stern (one of whom was skipper Daryl Hodgkinson) and the only way up was to climb up the mainsheet traveller. So it was a full vertical; we had the boat over for about three or four minutes, that was pretty hairy.'
Asked how they recovered this position Ollie explains the new manoeuvre.
'It actually went like clockwork as we had a sail up again with ten minutes; but we had two guys down in the water, underwater, pinned down in the corner; we basically blew the tack (the spinnaker tack at the bowsprit), smoked the halyard, put the keel back in its position and we came out on the other gybe. We had the new spinnaker up in about ten minutes.'
'So it was a Crash - Chinese Gybe - Peel'!
'I don’t know how we did it, it should have been half an hour or an hour of damage and yet we managed to come out of it sailing 13 knots. It was great; we just dug in, it was Armageddon!'
'We were blessed, we should have lost the rig, we should have lost everything, in the end we came out of it beautifully and even with no kite up we were still doing 13 knots.'
'I don’t know how we did it, honestly. If it was night time it would probably have been a different story, we might have been in trouble.'
Creative and innovative as this new manoeuvre evidently was, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to practice it!
by Crosbie Lorimer
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12:19 AM Tue 31 Dec 2013GMT
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