|In this photograph supplied by Volvo Ocean Race, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's yacht Azzam, skippered by Britain's Ian Walker, returns to Alicante, Spain, Sunday Nov. 6, 2011, after the mast broke in rough weather on the first day of racing on leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (AP PhotoPaul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race photo via AP Images)|
2 boats stop for repairs in Volvo Ocean Race
ALICANTE, Spain—Two of the six boats in the Volvo Ocean Race have temporarily stopped racing due to a broken mast and damaged hull inside the first 24 hours of the opening leg and amid brutal sea conditions in the Mediterranean.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing motored back into Alicante on Sunday after the mast on its team yacht Azzam broke in rough weather the previous night -- just six hours and 85 nautical miles from the start of a 6,500 nautical mile haul to Cape Town.
While Ian Walker's team returned to the starting port, Team Sanya reported damage to its hull while sailing upwind in 35-38 knots around 30 nautical miles southeast of Motril, on the coast of Spain. The team suspended racing and made its way to the port of Motril to assess the damage after battling winds of more than 43 knots and waves over 34 feet, the team said.
An interview with Roberto "Chuny" Bermudez filmed on board the Camper boat resulted in the Spaniard being blown to the ground and slammed across deck. Unscathed, he continued the interview below deck.
Azzam ran into trouble around 30 miles southwest of Cartagena. The crew recovered the rig and went back to Alicante before launching a round-the-clock repair effort Sunday morning.
"I think it is too early to start making judgments but certainly we believe we can (win the race)," Walker said. "I know it's a big wave when my feet leave the ground," Walker said. "When we landed the mast just kept going."
Mike Sanderson, skipper of Team Sanya, the first sole Chinese entry in the race, also promised to bounce back from the setback.
"Right now we have no idea how major the damage is," Sanderson said. "We are all safe though."
On the racecourse, Chris Nicholson's Camper led the fleet toward the Strait of Gibraltar, with Telefonica just over six nautical miles behind, while Puma's Mar Mostro and Groupama 4 were only 10 miles adrift in third and fourth.