Has the Team China boat started to fall apart at the seams? Is the keel going to fall off, at any minute, and kill thousands of innocent crabs and starfish? Have the crew members had their life insurance premiums doubled, due to the added risk of sailing in a Chinese built boat? Was it a sabotage attempt by Alinghi, to take the heat away from their weather controlling conspiracy? Well I can tell you all now, the answer to each and every question is an emphatic "NO".
Yesterday afternoon (April 29), I spoke to Christian Hill, of McConaghy International, the hull builders of CHN95. Chris was the foreman of the hull construction stage of the original build and is in a position to know what could, or could not, have gone wrong with the boat, structurally. He explained what had happened.
There was no major damage or danger to the boat. What we had, basically, was a failure between the main structure and the keelbox. There was no delamination involved and at no time was the boat in any danger of losing the keel. What we have here is a bit of a hybrid situation, in that the new boat is actually not completely new.
The hull was built from scratch to a new design, but the deck and all ancilliary equipment were culled from the old boat. The new hull had no delamination at all, as has been reported in the press. What actually happened was that the join between the new hull and keelbox became unglued, from the old deck and keel reinforcing system.
What we have are a series of angled brackets, which bolt through the keelbox and help hold the structure together. These are a part of the old deck structure and it was that structure which started to fail. If it hadn’t been for the noise, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed it, but of course, once we did it was obvious that it had to be properly repaired.
The boat is now fine and on the water, so the guys can get back to what they are here for. One thing that must be said is that the criticism of Chinese built boats has no basis, whatsoever, and this was one of the unfair points being bandied about in the sailing magazines and online forums. The standard of build and the quality control we are seeing from the Chinese yards is second to none and it just so happens that the recent failure on CHN95 was actually in the part that was, originally, built in a country with a very high profile in the composite yacht construction industry.
So there you go; frank and to the point. Team China’s boat will not be disappearing under the waves to Davy Jones Locker, in the foreseeable future. Thank you Chris, for telling BYM News what really happened..