As precaution, crew reinforces mast Md. boat takes action to reduce compression risks

Kostecki to stay on board, Chessie update

December 31, 1997|By Bruce Stannard | Bruce Stannard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SYDNEY, Australia - With the start of Leg 4 of the Whitbread Round the World Race just four days away, Chessie Racing's shore crew has been busy reinforcing the mast below the deck.

The aluminum mast, identical to those aboard Innovation Kvaerner and Swedish Match, which were badly buckled by excessive compression during Leg 3, has been strengthened by 10 x 6 x 1/4-inch steel straps, fixed to the port and starboard sides just above the step.

Although Chessie's mast showed only minimal signs of compression stress during Leg 3 with concave and convex dishing between the deck-head and the heel of the spar, the work was undertaken as a precaution.

The next leg should be mostly light air, but beyond Auckland lies the long, hazardous passage across the Southern Ocean and around the often-treacherous Cape Horn.

The masts on Norway's Innovation Kvaerner and Swedish Match were so badly buckled that their crews had to sail with extreme care to avoid having the 85-foot rig go over the side. In Sydney, the crews of the two boats had to undertake radical surgery to correct their mast problems. Fifty centimeters (approximately 20 inches) of aluminum was hacked off the bottom of both masts, and new sections were sleeved into place.

Chessie shore manager Bryan Fishback confirmed today that no other structural problems were encountered when the boat was hauled out and inspected in Sydney during the Christmas break.

"There were a couple of minor dings in the hull," he said, "but these were normal wear and tear. The anti-fouling paint applied in Fremantle still looks good, so all we had to do was clean the hull and put her back in the water."

The mast was taken out and examined piece by piece. Although the mast and its standing rigging were not X-rayed, Fishback says nothing untoward was found. "We are in good shape and ready to go racing again," he said.

Tactician John Kostecki will continue to sail aboard Chessie Racing at least for the 1,270-nautical-mile Leg 4, across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand. Skipper George Collins, who is on a holiday break shark-watching with his family on the Great Barrier Reef, is expected to be at the helm for Leg 4, although he is not expected to undertake the 6,670-nautical-mile Leg 5, from Auckland to Sao Sebastiao, Brazil.

Chessie bowman Rick Deppe, who according to Collins was "flung around like a rag doll" at the top of Chessie's mast during the last leg, is hobbling on crutches.

Deppe's "she'll be right, mate" stoicism failed to hide the painful muscle injuries he sustained in his legs, and team physician Reynaldo Rodriguez is believed to have recommended he take a break from his foredeck duties during the short hop to Auckland.

Deppe's place is likely to be taken by highly experienced all-rounder Paul van Dyke.

More coverage

Television: Sunday, Jan. 11, 2:30 p.m., Sydney to Auckland, ESPN.

Internet: For more of The Sun's coverage of the Whitbread, go to www.sunspot.net/whitbread/. Other sites include: www.whitbread.org www.us.net/whitbread/

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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