Video captures Volvo Ocean Race boat in death roll
by Risa Merl
Not for the seasick-prone or faint of heart, this video captures the moment that a Volvo Ocean Race boat broached into a death roll in the Southern Ocean, 2,000 miles away from land.
The Spanish team MAPFRE, led by Skipper Iker Martínez, faced challenging conditions on the fifth leg of the race from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil. Iker Martinez has taken part in three Volvo Ocean Races previously and has two Olympic medals.
A death roll, feared by many a sailor, can occur when heading downwind in high-wind conditions. The boat will begin to roll side to side, steadily increasing to the point where the boat tilts all the way windward while also turning leeward, causing an accidental, out-of-control gybe, often called a "crash gybe" or in sailing slang a "Chinese gybe".
MAPFRE was not alone in battling these treacherous seas, as four of the six boats involved in the race were reported to tip or capsize during this leg. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, for instance, reported they experienced a “massive wipe-out” in the night.
The UK’s all-female Team SCA, skippered by Sam Davies, was on its side for two to four minutes before righting themselves, while France’s Dongfeng Race Team reported that it took them much longer – two to three hours – to sort themselves out after taking on nearly 300 litres of water through the boat’s air vents. Both of those teams along with MAPFRE all withstood sideways spills or death rolls.
Fortunately, none of the incidents have proved too damaging and each of the boats has been able to carry on in the race despite the testing sea state.
There are four more legs to go in the gruelling race, which will end in Gothenburg, Sweden, this June.