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Keel hydraulic ram problem for Isabelle Joschke

by Vendée Globe 4 Jan 13:54 PST 4 January 2021
Isabelle Joschke - Vendée Globe © Isabelle Joschke / MACSF

The last few days into 2021 have proven extremely tough for Isabelle Joschke. She was fifth on December 28 and in the main chasing group but she has suffered damage to her keel hydraulics since early Sunday afternoon and cannot now cant the keel of her IMOCA MACSF. With the passage of Cape Horn approaching the Franco-German skipper has a demanding period ahead of her as she tries to stay as competitive as possible in the heart of an intense battle.

Her team report today that she has had successive problems since the turn of the year, the worst coming yesterday Sunday when her keel ram gradually let go around 1300hrs UTC.

"I lost my aerial 48 hours ago. The autopilot can longer steer in wind mode. That was already an additional difficulty for me in terms of performance. Then in the night from Saturday to Sunday, I tore my gennaker. Since then I have been short of power. With all these problems, I hadn't slept enough and I was exhausted. So I went to rest and after half an hour I heard the creaking of the keel which was gradually releasing. I knew something was going wrong. I called my team to discuss solutions. We looked for hydraulic leaks, I got out the toolbox. When we wanted to do a test and when I activated the actuator motor, I heard a rather loud metallic noise. At this point I noticed that the cylinder rod had come loose from the keel head. Even so I am still OK because I have a keel locking system in the middle. Now we can say that the boat is completely out of danger," says Isabelle Joschke.

"We saw pictures and quickly realized that this was not fixable. It was absolutely necessary to prevent the keel from moving around. On MACSF, we have a cylinder which allows the keel to be blocked in the vertical position in the axis of the boat. This means that Isabelle will not be able to move it from here on," explains Alain Gautier, the team manager of the MACSF project.

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