Team SCA makes port

Sam Davies and crew claim fifth place on the Volvo Ocean Race's fifth leg

Tuesday April 7th 2015, Author: James Boyd, Location: Brazil

Team SCA crossed the finishing line in Itajai at 13:52:15 UTC to a rapturous reception from family, friends and an army of local supporters.

It has been a long and trying leg for Sam Davies' team, which had more than its fair share of trials and tribulations on the 6,776-mile leg from Auckland.

"We made it to dock! We made mistakes, we had things go wrong, but we fixed it all and we've made it here, and we're in one piece so we're happy," said Davies. "We proved at the beginning that we could keep up with the others, but then we broke our fractional sail, the sail that we really needed for this leg.

“We have had a series of challenges on this leg. We have had everything, starting with breaking our FRO, then a big wipeout, breaking battens in the main, hitting unidentified objects and taking the rudder out. The conditions were pretty hard and everyone is very tired.

“We knew that we could only do this together as a team and accept the frustrations and setbacks together. After a few days rest we will look back on that and realise what we learnt.”

Six days after the leg start, Team SCA suffered a Chinese gybe, which destroyed their FRO, the fractional Code 0 tailored for the Southern Ocean conditions. From that moment on, the reduced sail options meant that the team struggled to keep pace with their competitors.

For navigator Libby Greenhalgh, this meant planning the best routing while handicapped: “That is the thing I found the hardest: To lose a sail that we fundamentally needed to have to get us to Cape Horn and then assess the situation without it. Our opportunities were so limited. In some ways it was interesting and challenging as we had to adapt as we went along but you have to cover so many more miles and you don’t cover those fast enough.”

At one stage, they also lost their electronics overnight, effectively sailing blind in the Southern Ocean. Then, last Sunday, they were rocked again by three collisions with unidentified objects as they raced up the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic, the first doing considerable damage to one of the rudders.

In stark contract to the 50 knot winds and a confused sea state they experienced en route to Cape Horn Itajaí reserved its very best weather for the arrival of the first all-women’s crew to enter the race for 12 years.

For Annie Lush, it was a tough leg but on reflection there were a lot of lessons learnt: “A part of me would like to race this leg again. We made it and another boat didn’t. That was our goal and I guess that it was our best position yet. In time this leg will be something that we laugh about in the bar, so a lot of stories to tell.”

The shore crew, working with the race’s Boatyard team, will now have a busy few days ensuring the boat is back to optimum condition ready for the Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port race on April 18 and the Leg 6 departure for Newport, Rhode Island, a day later.

Meanwhile, Dongfeng Race Team, which was forced to retire from the leg after breaking its mast on Monday last week, is being motorsailed to Itajaí and looks set to have about four days to have its replacement mast stepped ready for the departure of leg six to Newport, Rhode Island.


Images from Rick Tomlinson / Team SCA, Ainhoa Sanchez and Buda Mendez / Volvo Ocean Race


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