Ocean-racing yacht takes on water

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MARCH 6 — While rounding Cape Horn in the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race the crew of movistar worked frantically last Thursday to seal a leak after the boat began taking on water.

“A sailor’s nightmare is sinking and this looked like a pretty serious situation,” Bouwe Bekking, skipper of the Spanish yacht, says in a news report. “If we had rats on board they would have jumped off.”

Movistar had been in second place when its crew first noticed the leak, news reports say. Using high-capacity pumps the crew bailed the knee-high water from the boat’s central hull. Four rival yachts — Pirates of the Caribbean, Brasil 1, ABN Amro Two and Ericsson — were placed on standby for a possible rescue.

The movistar crewmembers were able to stop the leak and continue the race, according to reports. They plan to dock in Ushuaia, Argentina, for repairs. The boat’s designer, Farr Yacht Design, suspected that problems with the fairing plate around the forward end of the keel caused water to enter the boat through the wet box surrounding the keel mechanism, according to a news release. Repairs had been made to the fairing plate before the beginning of the fourth leg in Wellington, New Zealand.

The fourth leg of the race ends in Rio de Janeiro. As of Friday, movistar was in last place, with team ABN Amro One in first, Brasil 1 in second and Pirates of the Caribbean in third.

Jason Fell