Published: Thursday, 15 January 2015

The same padeye that broke in dramatic fashion during Leg 1 is plaguing the team once again. The padeye, which controls the lines for the big masthead gennaker (aka MH0) has once more left the determined men of Dongfeng facing a compromise to their performance due to new issues with this vital piece of deck hardware.

Padeye Damage Compromises Dongfeng In Leg 3 1

All the padeyes across the fleet were replaced in Cape Town, but the structure around the padeye itself is unable to take the normal operating load required on it, and is now deformed onboard the Chinese boat. This means that at the moment Dongfeng cannot use its biggest gennaker in the way it would normally want to as the team cannot load up this most-aft control point. Kevin Escoffier, working with the Dongfeng shore team and Nick Bice from the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard team have been working on repair and reinforcement solutions but clearly its a setback for the Chinese team just as things were going so well.

Padeye Damage Compromises Dongfeng In Leg 3

“We are not able to perform at 100%,” says Skipper Charles Caudreli‚Äčer. “We cannot use our MH0 in certain conditions and we cannot trim it perfectly at all. We will try to reinforce it [the padeye fixing] because if we use it now and it breaks we have no solution to fix it."

This particular sail, the MH0 [MastHead CodeZero] is used a lot in two different modes – upwind (sailing against the wind) in everything from 2 to 8 or so knots, and downwind (wind behind) in winds of up to 25+ knots. The windy downwind sailing might not happen again on this leg, but the light upwind conditions are happening now and will happen a lot up to Singapore. So getting Dongfeng back to 100% effectiveness represents a key moment for Dongfeng Race Team on this third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Padeye Damage Compromises Dongfeng In Leg 3 2

Dongfeng is leading the fleet by 46 miles [at 1000 GMT Jan 14], roughly midway between Sri Lanka and Sumatra, with the entrance to the Malacca Straits at just over 400 miles. With the wind lottery that this upcoming part of the course is likely to throw into the game, Dongfeng is hoping to at least enter the zone with some of its current advantage.

In the meantime, there is the tricky issue of how to cross a vast low-pressure area with very light winds blocking the path to the Malacca Straits.