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Team Dongfeng: “WITHOUT FRESH WATER WE CAN’T CONTINUE” - Volvo Ocean Race
Leg 6: Brazil to Newport (5,000nm)
Days at sea: 3

Boat speed: 16 knots 

Distance to finish: 4,496nm

Position in fleet: 4th and furthest east of the pack

In the Volvo Ocean Race boats can (and have) suffered the most random of problems. Last race Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had to drill 30 holes into their hull to keep their boat in one piece, last leg we suffered a broken mast. But to a certain extent damage to the boat is expected in ocean racing, what is slightly less predictable, however, is a broken water maker.

One of the most important pieces of equipment onboard that perhaps hasn’t had the recognition it deserved, until now. Because despite our race against time to get the mast and boat back on track for leg 6, our race is now depending on whether the team can repair the (newly refurbished) water maker onboard in the next few hours or whether they will have to make a pit stop.

The rules state a minimum pit stop is 12 hours. If Dongfeng has to stop it will cost the team many miles, as Skipper Charles Caudrelier explains:

A difficult start!

We set off 48 hours ago, and we’re back in the combat zone already.

Once again the One Design fleet is all together, and a single minute of lapse leads to an expensive loss.

Victim of a bad cloud the first night, we’ve been fighting back for 24 hours to come back. And this afternoon we are back with the leaders, finally we should have been able to rest, eat and drink properly!

But from the first night we’ve had a problem with our water-maker, the device that turns sea water in to drinking water. With Kevin we’ve spent 12 hours trying to repair before we find the problem.

Unfortunately its a serious problem, and our repair has only a very small chance of working. We’ll know in 12 hours time with the glue has dried.

It’s a big knock, especially coming after the mast, and considering it was only just refurbished and checked.

Without fresh water we can’t continue. If we stop to repair it the rules oblige us to stop for a minimum of 12 hours, costing us many miles. And no port well place on our route without making a big diversion. We have an emergency water-maker onboard. 30 minutes of manual pumping to produce 3 litres of water. A chore that everyone is looking forward to at the end of the watch! Painful, but something that might allow to finish the leg if this device functions for 18 days of intense use."

Photo : Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team
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