Ian Walker defiant despite early setback

 

Alicante

“We can still win this race,” said a defiant Ian Walker after motoring his crippled yacht Abu Dhabi back to Alicante less than 24 hours after starting the first leg of the Volvo round the world race to Cape Town.

Then the Chinese yacht Sanya, skippered by 2004-05 winner Mike Sanderson, announced that he, too was suspending racing to fix hull damage at Puerto de Motril.

Walker’s 100-foot super-high tech carbon fibre mast came crashing down without warning just over five hours and fifteen minutes down the track. No-one was injured and the crew of 10 plus an embedded media man saved all the sails and the three sections of mast. The rescue services at Cartagena were on standby but did not have to go to the aid of the 70-foot yacht about 20 miles offshore.

The wind was blowing between about 27 knots and a gale force 35 at the time but the seas were whipped into a difficult steep chop and the boat fell into a trough. “I know it’s a big wave when my feet come off the ground,” said a dazed-looking Walker, a British double Olympic silver medallist.

The crew was on deck completing a change to reduce sail area and the mast crumpled away from them. But they had to react quickly to minimise resultant damage to the hull, which was being speared by the spreaders though which the rigging runs.

A team of experts is on its way to assess exactly what caused the failure. The team’s spare mast was on its way to Madrid to be flown to Amsterdam for storage but was turned round, put on another truck, permits to use the Spanish motorways on a Sunday hurriedly issued, and was expected in Alicante late Sunday afternoon.

Essential is to find the cause of the breakage in case there is a similar fault in the spare.

Before the start Walker had proudly described the mast as “a peach.” It was a showcase product making its high profile debut after being made in Valencia by the British-founded company Future Fibres in a joint venture  with the Bergamo-based Italian company, Persico.

As well as making the high tech rigging for yacht masts, Future Fibres makes the tethers for the wheels on Formula One and other racing cars. Persico is the company again selected by Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli to build the hulls of his latest America’s Cup entry, Luna Rossa.

The Abu Dhabi team had originally negotiated exclusive use of the Future Masts technology. The development of the mould, milled from a solid aluminium block, was hugely expensive.

Abu Dhabi then agreed to allow a rival entry in the Volvo, China’s Sanya, to have a new mast made with an identical tube, though the design of the fittings is different.

Future Masts also supplied a tube for Mike Golding’s refitted Open 60, Gamesa, currently in the Atlantic in the double-handed Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to Costa Rica.

The Abu Dhabi team was immediately in tough with Sanderson and members of the Sanya shore team immediately, as did others, offered to help with repairs but may have to break off to look after the damaged Sanya.

The repairs to Abu Dhabi could take three or four days and Walker could not hide the disappointment of such a campaign blow after working so hard for 18 months before the start. But others may also suffer setbacks over a 39,000-mile race which finishes next July in Galway. “Certainly, we believe we can still win this race,” he said.

Going into the second 24 hours, there was a Spanish one-two as the New Zealand-managed entry Camper was leading the charge through tough conditions in the Straits of Gibraltar with a four-mile advantage over Telefonica.

Third-placed Groupama from France then had a five-mile lead over the American-flagged Puma as Sanya pulled off the track.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum