Keel damage from whale is repaired Chessie update


The keel damage sustained in Chessie Racing's collision with a whale in the Southern Ocean was repaired yesterday, allowing the crew to press on with the major task of renewing the super-slick racing finish on the boat's underbody.

The damage, a slight ding about two feet above the junction of the bulb and the fin keel was not as significant as was feared. Paint had peeled off, but there was no real structural damage. There was, however, one blade missing from the tiny impeller that protrudes through the boat's bottom to record its speed through the water.

If the impeller was damaged during the collision with the whale it would have resulted in slower speed read-outs, adding to the psychological gloom by compounding the crew's impression that Chessie was sailing somewhat slower than her front-running rivals in Leg 2 of the Whitbread Round the World race.

Chessie, the Maryland entry in the race, came into Fremantle, Australia, a disappointing sixth after the wild ride from Cape Town, South Africa, last week. The fleet's tail-enders - Merit Cup, EF Education and BrunelSunergy - all finished within hours of each other on Friday and are undergoing exhaustive maintenance.

All the boats are now on hard-standing at Fremantle Sailing Club. Their 90-foot rigs were craned out and hauled off for microscopic and X-ray examination.

Chessie's crew discovered two hairline cracks at the masthead, hardly surprising considering the seven-ton loads the spars are asked to bear under their enormous spinnakers. The cracks have been repaired, and after the crew has finished its torture-board sanding of the hull, Chessie is to be given two, perhaps three, coats of an off-white anti-fouling paint for Leg 3 from Fremantle to Sydney, which starts Dec. 13.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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