To continue Volvo Ocean Race or not: Team Vestas Wind to decide in a week

Skipper Chris Nicholson says the boat will need some more work before they can come to a conclusion, Osman Samiuddin reports.
Chris Nicholson, in white, and Charlie Enright, second from left, met for the first time since Nicholson's Team Vestas Wind crew had to be rescued by Enright's Team Alvamedica during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images
Chris Nicholson, in white, and Charlie Enright, second from left, met for the first time since Nicholson's Team Vestas Wind crew had to be rescued by Enright's Team Alvamedica during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images

It was an innocuous little moment but it carried considerable significance. Just ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) skippers’ news conference on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, Chris Nicholson and Charlie Enright came face to face for the first time after Nicholson’s Team Vestas ran aground after the first week of the second leg.

Enright, skippering Team Alvimedica, had diverted his boat that night to stand by in assistance to Nicholson and his crew, until they were safely rescued.

Vestas has expressed their gratitude to Alvimedica but this was the first time the two skippers had actually come face to face. A solid handshake, some words of gratitude and that was that.

Since then Vestas have been striving to find a way back into the race. The damaged boat has been removed from the reef it crashed into near Mauritius and work is underway currently to see how much of it – and the chances of a return to this race – can be salvaged.

“We’re really in the middle of trying to work out if we can come back,” Nicholson said. “The plan A is to be back and it always has been the ultimate goal. But we’re still deep into looking at whether that can happen.”

Two of the team are heading to Malaysia on Wednesday to conduct testing into how much of the boat can be rescued and whether it can be repaired in time.

Vestas were expected to make a definitive announcement on their future participation before the start of Leg 3 on Saturday, but it might take another week before there is clarity.

The prospects of a return at some point have never been particularly high and Nicholson was unable to add any brightness to that situation.

“Hopefully we will know within the week,” he said. “Every day that we don’t make a decision is at least one day lost at the other end.

“We’ve got to get the experts and we have to get the boat ultra-sounded in Malaysia in the next few days to work out if there is more damage than we think. We’ve got to find out the true extent of all the damage before we make a smart decision. It’s close. I’m not sure which way it will go.”

Enright and his team, meanwhile, have been compensated to some degree for their diversion. Alvimedica were effectively out of the race for over nine hours when they stood by Vestas.

Under race rules, they had a right to appeal to a special jury for redress. Enright revealed that he had spoken to the jury on Tuesday and that the team would be awarded one point – instead of a positional change – for their time out.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 30, 2014 04:00 AM

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