x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Azzam shore crew ready to do a '72-hour repair' squeezed into 40 hours

The president of the company that designed the boat and four boatbuilders are in Brazil to assist with fixing Azzam for the next leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Azzam arrived in Itajai, Brazil, on the MV Thorco Empire after hull delamination caused retirement from Leg 5.
Azzam arrived in Itajai, Brazil, on the MV Thorco Empire after hull delamination caused retirement from Leg 5.

Mike Danks has known outlandish tasks in previous Volvo Ocean Races, from repairing a destroyed cabin with floating laptops to a scurry to the Australian west coast for a sleepless 40-hour repair.

Another began yesterday for the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing shore team manager as Azzam arrived in Itajai, Brazil, for boat-building surgery at the sixth stopover of the 2011/12 circumnavigation.

The nine-month-old yacht rode from Chile on the ship MV Thorco Empire after hull delamination caused retirement from Leg 5, and the shore team stocked up on rest and preparations for the frantic rush to prepare Azzam for the in-port race tomorrow and departure on Leg 6 for Miami on Sunday.

"We have a huge logistical task ahead of us to get a 40-hour repair done inside an extremely tight timetable," Danks wrote on a team blog. "However, this is how the Volvo goes and many of us are used to it."

Jamie Boag, the team director, called it "a 72-hour repair" squeezed into 40 hours. "Since the crew left Chile," he wrote, "we have, like the famous scene in Apollo 13, been running scenarios and looking at the different critical paths involved with the repair on the boat. Every time we go over the process we manage to shave a few minutes here or there."

The tasks will include cutting out the core and inner skin near the damage, repairing the broken side and doing "remedial work on the 'good' side". Danks noted that Patrick Shaughnessy, president of the US-based firm that designed the boat, had arrived in Itajai to assist, in addition to four boatbuilders from the UK.

"Despite all the good work, we are constrained by the laws of physics," Boag wrote. "Resins have cure times. There is a limit on the amount of people who can actually work in a confined space, and there are only a certain amount of hours in the day. We are also conscious of the old adage that more haste (means) less speed. At the end of the day, the repair has to be seaworthy."

Danks pronounced the shore crew "rested, determined and ready to go" and "confident the work will move ahead smoothly once the boat is safely in her cradle".

Azzam stands fifth in the nine-month race on 55 points, having gone point-less in both Leg 1 and Leg 5, retiring from both with damage. The team sits distantly behind a gathering race between the top four, from the first-place team Telefonica (Spain) on 147 points to Puma (US) on 113.

 

cculpepper@thenational.ae

 

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