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Anxious moments as LG FLATRON repairs their mainsail

by Event Press on 15 Nov 2000
LG FLATRON have continued to extend their lead of leg 2 of this round the world yacht race. Over the last 24 hours they have covered 221 miles at an average speed of 9.2 knots. They now have a 137 mile gap to second placed Spirit of Hong Kong with 538 miles to go to the end of this leg in Buenos Aires.

Yesterday memories of Leg 1 flashed back as we dropped the mainsail to inspect the damage to the battern cars. We were then 1200 miles to Boston, when we sailed into a wind hole not seen on the weather charts and stopped for four hours going backwards in the Gulf Stream. On that occasion we lost the lead to Quadstone and BP. On this occasion we are also 1200 miles to the finish and have a 100 mile lead on the fleet, however a day without a mainsail would see that lead slashed and with an expected light period ahead. We are all very aware that our position is vulnerable from such a competitive chasing pack.

Having just fought for 36 hours with a nasty depression spawned off the Brazilian coast, that brought 45kts from the east and a 3-4metre storm surge to the coast, Team LG have throttled back a little to avoid breakages. The last thing we want at this moment was damage to the main.

Once inspected the problem was a simple one. Two of the stainless 'D' plates securing the mainsail batterns to the sliders on the main track has worked undone and disappeared during the night. We carry one spare. I looked at Bob, who's face showed little emotion as we talked through how to make a lasting repair. The mainsail had been down for two hours, the trisail was putting up a brave front, but our speed was reduced by 2.5 knots. Getting anxious, I worked through the spares inventory once more as Bob drilled away on a small piece of stainless fashioned from a stainless steel ruler. With no success from the inventory, I wondered how a flimsy stainless steel ruler cut to shape would hold the loads imposed on the mainsail. With nothing to loose and no other solution to hand, this had to work. Even if it held for a day, we had enough material to make another half dozen, which should get us to BA now just a week away.

We dropped the mainsail at 1800 and fitted the bodged stainless part, just as the 2000z sched came in. Surprisingly SHK and BPE had taken few miles during the period; maybe they had their own problems. I'm not sure how long the repair will hold, but a new sense of urgency has hit Team LG FLATRON if we are to fulfil our aim to win leg 2.

Top six positions:

1 LG FLATRON - 538 miles to go
2 Spirit of Hong Kong - 675
3 Logica - 710
4 BP - 717
5 Olympic Group - 730
6 Team SpirIT - 735

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