The final yacht in the Clipper Race fleet has now left Hong Kong after forestay repairs. PSP Logistics left the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Causeway Bay at mid-day local time today (UTC + 8 hours); her departure was delayed slightly longer to also replace a faulty fuel pump.
“We did not expect to have to make a pit stop in Hong Kong but when forestay rigging screws on three boats broke in the same place within 40 hours we had no choice but to stop the race,” explains Clipper Race Chairman and Founder, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
The fleet was diverted to Hong Kong following failures in three of the 12-strong fleet's forestay bottlescrews. All have been replaced with an alternative system which is tried and tested on Sir Robin's own Open 60 which he raced around the world single handed in the 2006-7 Velux 5 Oceans.
“There was clearly a fault and it looked like it would be found throughout the fleet. The risk of injury to any of the crew if a mast fell down was our primary concern. So we instructed the fleet to make their way to Hong Kong where we could effect repairs and contacted the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for assistance.
“The Clipper Race fleet called at the RHKYC for its first three races and we have many friends within the club, and those friends did not let us down.
“OneDLL and PSP Logistics were sent round to the main club base in Causeway Bay because of its engineering facilities.
“So, the Clipper Race crews have learned another valuable lesson, about how you can effect a rigging repair without the obvious bits in an emergency. PSP Logistics had a problem with their engine while on its way to Hong Kong. The high pressure fuel pump failed so she had to be towed by OneDLL.
“We were told by Perkins that they could not supply another fuel pump for 80 days (I have sailed around the world in less!) so we robbed one of the Clipper 68s in Gosport of its pump and Justin Haller flew out to Qingdao via Hong Kong Airport where Paul Hankey met him, collected the pump and brought it back to the yacht club in Causeway Bay where there are excellent engineering facilities run by Roger Eastham.
“The engineer, in the meantime, had found out what was wrong with the original pump, removed the broken bits, found spares and repaired the pump. He fitted his repaired pump and the engine fired up. Still it was wise to have had the spare flown out in case the repair had taken longer. PSP Logistics sailed at 1455 on 5 March with the welcome thought that the wind direction is becoming more favourable and she was carrying a spare fuel pump.
“One must mention the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and thank them for all the help they gave us. It was not just the way they leaped into the breach, it was the enthusiastic and professional way they sorted out our problem. The hospitality of the club is legendary, and many of the crews had the opportunity to avail themselves of the bar and meals whilst in port. The RHKYC is a very special yacht club.”
PSP Logistics is now heading for the starting gate in an individually timed sprint to Qingdao, so the team still has every opportunity of doing well as points will be appointed on the basis of the fastest boat between the start and finish points rather than the order over the line.
The yachts are anticipated to arrive in Qingdao between Monday 10 and Thursday 13 March subject to the prevailing weather conditions.