Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Chinese gybe is a moment for concern

18th November 2008

Ian Walker reports from Green Dragon: Conditions have progressively got harder over the last 24 hours as we head towards the Southern Ocean. For Green Dragon things were getting better. At 10 am we crossed ahead of Puma by about 6 miles as they gybed North East and we recorded the longest distance in the latest position report.

Our sail combination was obviously fast although we were on the edge with the spinnaker up in over 30 knots.  You can tell down below when things are about to go wrong and I was just getting my waterproofs on when there was a huge bang and the boat went into an involuntary Chinese gybe. You might think this is al lright for a boat with such strong Chinese connections but a Chinese gybe is what we all fear most as it is when the boat crash gybes and leaves you on your side with everything including the keel on the wrong side.

As the mainsail hit the weather runners, water started pouring in down below through the ventilation hatches due to the side decks now being underwater, but the boat miraculously turned back the right way, gybed back and righted itself. Everyone’s immediate reaction was that we had broken the rudder, but as it turned out the steering blocks had sheared away down below leaving Neal with no steerage on the weather wheel.

As the boat speared out of control Anthony Merrington (aka Youngster) managed to grab the leeward wheel just in time and straighten us up. Able to steer from only the leeward wheel we managed to drop the spinnaker and affect an immediate repair. Everyone was harnessed on and everything secure so no harm was done.  Tom Braidwood, Damian Foxall and Justin Slattery didn’t hesitate to drill right through the hull and secure a new block. Fortunately the only real cost was perhaps 5-10 miles and we are now back up and running with another bar story to tell. I should point out that Damian has never sailed from Cape Town without having to turn back into Port Elizabeth in all his previous Volvo races so we still can’t relax unless the jinx returns. I thought it had. Ian Walker - skipper Team

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