Broken? Jury rig it!

There is no more hallowed skill the ocean sailor possesses than the ability to mash together a jury rig. The Volvo Ocean Race Puma Racing team demonstrated this yet again when they broke their rudder in the North Atlantic. Just rig up a new one and carry on!

From the press release: Just after 1800 GMT today, Thursday May 21st, PUMA broke one of their two rudders whilst racing hard across the Atlantic Ocean. Mid-way through leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 from Boston, USA to Galway, Ireland, the PUMA Ocean Racing team suffered the breakage whilst blasting downwind at speeds of up to 35 knots in heavy seas. The team, who are safe and in good spirits, have rigged up their emergency rudder system and intend to carry on racing to Ireland.

Given that the PUMA Ocean Racing team had to physically stop, take down the sails, fix the rudder and then begin sailing again, they now lie only 26 miles behind Delta Lloyd, currently in first place. After an incredible day, which saw PUMA move up the leaderboard several places from fifth to first place before the incident, the team currently have 1,097 miles to go and are expected to reach Galway, Ireland this Sunday.

Skipper Ken Read (USA) commented from the boat: “Sailing on starboard tack at about 1800 GMT we had about 28 knots of wind and were going pretty quick with an A-zero and full mainsail. The sea state was quite awkward. A ton of water was coming over the deck with each wave but it was no big deal. All of a sudden we got a pretty nasty puff and we were off. We were a bit on the edge and did a small spin out. I heard a bang at the back of the boat and hoped like hell that it was the runner block hitting the boom or something. It wasn’t. When the boat sat on its side with the sails flopping and there was nothing that we could do to get it back down away from the wind, it was clear that the leeward rudder had snapped off. We quickly got the boat going downwind again by using the sails to steer, and finally heeled the boat to windward so the weather rudder would control the boat while we assessed damage. Then we had to literally stop the boat and take down the sails and fit our emergency rudder to proceed to Ireland. We’ll race as best we can. Our emergency rudder system is pretty slick. Time will tell if we have more rudder problems. We are all certainly a bit concerned right now.”

“However, we can leave it to Capey [Andrew Cape, AUS] to lighten up the situation and get everybody back into the swing of things…. Here we are in the North Atlantic about halfway to Ireland and there is a loud bang and it is full stop onboard. Everyone is a bit pissed off. Capey comes out of the hatch comes with his duffel bag over his shoulder, and says “last time I was here I heard the same noise and then it was time to get off”. [He was talking about when the keel system broke on movistar in the last race and they sadly had to abandon ship. Eventually the boat was lost. It happened eerily close to our position here tonight when the rudder snapped off.] After a good laugh, the team onboard went to work and now we are back sailing again. I guess it is all in a days work. I just hate to go to work on days like this.”

Leg seven is the last open-ocean crossing the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will sail in the remaining four legs of the ten leg race, scheduled to finish on June 28th in St Petersburg, Russia. By joining the race, PUMA has entered a new premium category and is the only Sportlifestyle company to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. For more information about the race, team and the PUMA Sailing collections, please visit

By Ocean Navigator