1 April 2015

Time to call it quits - Dongfeng

The Volvo Ocean Race has seen some dramatic days for many of the teams taking part in this extreme round the world adventure, writes Trish Whelan.

Dongfeng, the Chinese Race Team, is the latest casualty and have retired from Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race after breaking their mast in the Southern Ocean on Monday when a sickening crack had signalled to the crew that the top section of the mast had fractured, leaving the boat without full manoueverability. The mast broke without warning, at night, and in about 30 knots of wind. Nobody was injured in the incident and there is no immediate danger to the crew. Dongfeng are not planning to continue racing on this leg and are heading towards Ushuaia in Argentina, still under sail, to assess their options for getting to Itajai and carry out repairs. Help along the route is on standby if it is needed.

Dongfeng had been joint leaders with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) at the start of the leg.

However, four boats celebrated rounding the venerated landmark of Cape Horn on Monday, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile.

Trying to rejoin the race would have meant Dongfeng returning to the point they started using the engine at the western entrance of the Channel then sail south around Cape Horn which they felt would prove to be too risky, especially with rig and sails not fully fit for racing. The waters around the Cape are particularly hazardous owing to strong winds, large waves, strong currents and icebergs. The need for ships to round Cape Horn was greatly reduced by the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 but it is widely regarded as one of the major challenges in yachting.

Leg 6 is due to depart Itajai on 19 April.