December 30 2017
The damage happened in stormy conditions in the Southern Ocean on the fourth day of the race’s third leg from Cape Town. Team AkzoNobel’s crew of seven men and two women were able to effect temporary repairs but lost touch with the main fleet and arrived in Melbourne in seventh place.
The team’s late arrival meant time was tight to carry out a full repair to the mast which had to be un-stepped from the boat at a local shipyard by staff from the Volvo Ocean Race’s Boatyard shared services team and worked on around the clock by technicians from fleet mast manufacturer Southern Spars.
Happily, the repair work has gone smoothly and the team expect to be able to re-step the mast over the weekend followed by a test sail ahead of the Leg 4 start on Tuesday, January 2.
“We are confident of being on the start line with the boat back to 100 per cent,” said team AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont. “We needed a quick turnaround after arriving late but some fantastic work by our shore team, the Volvo Ocean Race staff and the guys from Southern Spars means we will be able to race competitively on Leg 4.”
Team AkzoNobel has announced three scheduled crew changes for the 11,000-kilometer fourth stage from Melbourne to Hong Kong.
Luke Molloy (AUS) and Peter van Niekerk (NED) return to the crew after being rested for Leg 3, while French Figaro solo sailor Cécile Laguette joins the team AkzoNobel crew for the first time.
Justin Ferris (NZL), Alex Pella (ESP) and Emily Nagel (BER/GBR) will all be rested for Leg 4.
Newcomer Laguette (31) was a reserve crewmember for the all-women Team SCA entry in the 2014-15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race when she also worked as a technician at the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard.
Since then Laguette – who holds a Bachelor of Engineering, Naval Architecture from England’s Southampton University and a Master of Engineering degree in Composite Materials from New Zealand’s University of Auckland – has twice skippered her own solo campaign in France’s highly competitive Solitaire du Figaro regatta circuit.
"I’m very excited to be able to be a part of the team AkzoNobel campaign,” Laguette said. “This will be my first time competing in this race and I’m looking forward to being out there racing against the other teams. It’s a great opportunity. My goal is to work hard and slot in to the crew as quickly as possible.”
Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race will see the seven-boat fleet first race up the eastern coast of Australia before re-crossing the equator into the northern hemisphere and turning north west to pass to the east of the Solomon and Philippines Pacific island chains.
The weather along the way could be complex with the crews likely to enjoy pleasant trade wind sailing either side of the equatorial light-wind Doldrums zone, but also running the risk of encountering fierce typhoon storms on the way to Hong Kong.
Team AkzoNobel currently lies in sixth place in the overall Volvo Ocean Race standings with eight legs of the eight-month round the world race to go.
Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race is scheduled to start from Melbourne at 1400 AEDT (0300 UTC/0400 CET) on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 and is forecast to take close to 18 days to complete, with the leaders expected to arrive in Hong Kong around January 20.
Team AkzoNobel crew list for Leg 4:
Simeon Tienpont (NED) - skipper
Brad Farrand (NZL)
Martine Grael (BRA)
Cécile Laguette (FRA)
Luke Molloy (AUS)
Chris Nicholson (AUS)
Jules Salter (GBR)
Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
Peter van Niekerk (NED)