Mad Carbon Fiber Skills, Azzam Conducts Emergency Hull Repair in the Deep Southern Ocean [VIDEO]

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March 30, 2012


Skipper Ian Walker supervised an incredible five-hour job that saw 30 bolts screwed through the hull of Abu Dhabi’s boat Azzam (which means ‘determination’ in Arabic) to prevent further damage.

In order to carry out the repair, the crew had to slow the boat to a standstill and tilt it onto its side in heavy weather so bowman Justin Slattery, lowered overboard secured to a rope and in full safety gear, could tighten the bolts on the outside of the hull.

Inside the hull, boat captain Wade Morgan and watch leader Craig Satterthwaite braced the damaged section with parts ripped from the boats bunks, stacking system and lockers.

volvo ocean race  abu dhabi ocean racing
(c) Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

“We’ve basically joined the skins back together with a mechanical fixing,” Walker said.  “At the moment it’s been much improved, we’ve got much less noise and it seems fairly strong. We’re still taking it quite easy right now.”

The damage was discovered in darkness, so the crew waited for daylight to effect repairs.

Walker praised the work of his crew, who carried out the repair in 30-knot winds and big seas, around 1,700 miles from land.

“Like always, these things bring the best out in the team and everybody played a role,” he added.  Rob Greenhalgh ran everything on deck keeping everything steady.  Wade and Craig oversaw the repairs down below and Justin Slattery was the man over the side on the halyard tightening the bolts.  Everyone else was helping, there was a lot of stuff going on.”

It’s the second major repair the Abu Dhabi crew have had to carry out in Leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil.  The team chose to return to Auckland within hours of starting the leg to repair structural damage to a bulkhead in the bow.  Walker said he was in talks with his team about how to progress, and that all options were open.

“The message is we’re in good shape,” he said.  “Right now we’re sailing with two people on deck, everyone else is down below resting.  We’re making good progress towards the Chilean coast at the moment, north east away from the worst of the incoming weather.”

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