Sailing: Heiner returns to take helm of struggling Brunel Sunergy

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Wholesale changes were announced on the Dutch Whitbread entry Brunel Sunergy yesterday in order to turn around the fortunes of a boat which has been last on the two legs to Cape Town and Fremantle so far.

The original skipper Roy Heiner will retake the helm after the departure of Hans Bouscholte. Part of the deal will mean Heiner bringing in three others, including Gerald Rogivue of Switzerland, who left after the first leg from Southampton. The British navigator, Stuart Quarrie, stays, but Joao Cabecadas of Portugal will leave along with Herve Jan and Eric Drouglazet.

Bouscholte replaced Arend van Bergeijk as skipper before the start of the race, while Heiner had departed much earlier after feeling that the project, put together by Benno Wiersma, a property developer, lacked sufficient funding. After he left, more financial support came in, but it was thought that Heiner would find a reconciliation difficult, even though he had sailed many times for Wiersma on the regatta circuit. Now it seems that the way has been cleared for his return.

Brunel Sunergy is the only boat of the remaining nine not to have been designed by the US-based New Zealander Bruce Farr. It came from the board of the German/Dutch designers Judel and Vrolijk in Hamburg and has suffered a number of setbacks, including having to call into Recife, Brazil, on the first leg to fit a new rudder after hitting a whale.

On the second leg, the backstay broke, allowing the top section of the mast to bend forward, and the crew then had to nurse the 64ft yacht through the southern ocean.