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Vestas 11th Hour Racing prepares for delivery of Volvo 65 to Itajai

by Kate Wilson, Vestas 11th Hour Racing 6 Apr 2018 15:45 PDT 7 April 2018
Leg 7, From Auckland to Itajai, day 18, on board Vestas 11th Hour © Jeremie Lecaudey / Volvo Ocean Race

On March 30th Vestas 11th Hour Racing was dismasted and forced to retire from Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race, a 7,100-mile leg from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil.

The team made landfall in the Falkland Islands, and is currently executing a plan to return to the race in time for the start of Leg 8 on April 22nd. The Volvo Ocean 65 will soon leave Stanley Harbour on the 1,500-mile journey north with an increased fuel capacity, the aid of a temporary mast, and repaired sails sourced from local boat owners.

"It has really been a collective team effort to try and get the boat back here," said team director Mark Towill from Itajai. "Every little win feels like a small win. There are still a lot of things that need to go our way in order for it all to happen, but we are going to keep pushing and keep fighting." Mark Towill and skipper Charlie Enright are currently in Itajai, coordinating the logistics of securing a new mast and transport of the vessel.

The team did leave the Falklands earlier in the week with the goal of getting to mainland South America. However, due to a mechanical and technical issue unrelated to the dismasting, they returned to Stanley Harbour shortly after departing, where they are re-fitting the boat using limited resources with the help of local residents. The focus has been on preparing a safe transit north to Itajai with a delivery crew, which is expected to leave in the next 24 hours and take 10-12 days.

At the time of the dismasting, due to weather conditions and the location of the breakage, the only option was to cut away the rig to keep the hull from being damaged and risking the safety of the crew onboard.

"The decision did not come lightly," explained skipper Charlie Enright from Itajai. "We never want to put anything in the ocean. We set out in this campaign to be the most sustainable team in the race, and we are not going to let this incident stop that. We are going to offset our entire carbon footprint and we are working with 11th Hour Racing to make sure that is the case.”

Damian Foxall, the team's sustainability manager, is analyzing how these changes impact the team's sustainability goals. On top of tracking the daily activities throughout the race, he is also analyzing how the use of new materials and additional fuel impact the overall carbon footprint of the campaign. At the end of the race, Vestas 11th Hour Racing will offset their footprint through a coastal restoration project.

"The team spirit continues to remain strong," commented Towill. "Everybody is still motivated to get back on the water and try and win this next leg into Newport. We really appreciate all the support we have received from our sponsors, from the Volvo Ocean Race, friends and family, and really all of our fans and supporters around the world."

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