[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Team Russia will sail with the fleet to St Petersburg but will not be a formal part of the racing proceedings after being unable to overcome their rule compliance issues.
The team, led by Stig Westergaard, arrived in Stockholm yesterday after last being seen in Singapore at Christmas, where they suspended racing because of insufficient funds.
Westergaard has spent the last six months trying to get the boat back in the race, but, despite reaching the leg 10 start port, acknowledged yesterday that he faced an enormous task to bring the boat and crew back in line with the class and race rules by the Thursday restart.
Ultimately, the scale of the operation was too large and the boat, which was in need of much maintenance after six months inactivity, was unable to comply with the all of the regulations.
The team will now join the fleet on the 400-nautical mile trip to St Petersburg, where Westergaard believes it belongs.
“We all owe it to Russia to come back to St Petersburg and show the flag,” he said.
Team founder Oleg Zherebtsov added: “We have put a tremendous amount of work into bringing Kosatka to Stockholm in race-ready mode and compliant with the event’s rules with the aim of racing for the first time into Russian waters. Regrettably we realise there are too many issues to overcome.
“Our intentions are go to the start line together with the other seven yachts competing in the Volvo Ocean Race from where we will shadow the fleet in racing mode all the way to the finish line and to the final mooring spot with all other VOR yachts in front of St Peter and St Paul Island.”
In explaining the decision, Race Director Jack Lloyd said: “We were thinking that they might make it this morning. They had one measurement issue that was weighing the boat, which we were looking about taking it to the Jury, but hadn’t made up our mind. Then we found another issue when the guys started checking the boat. There’s a safety mechanism on the keel canting system; you need a button that you can press that will mechanically put the keel back in the centre. If you are pinned down by the keel, you can mechanically crank it back up to the middle and help get the boat up.
“We have been strong all along that we will not compromise on safety and this is a safety aspect. We could maybe request something from the jury on a measurement issue, but we cannot do that with safety. It is impossible for them to get it done so we can’t go to the jury so they cannot race.
“But they are still part of our race. They deserve to take their place at the finish.”
Westergaard added: “We have run out of time. We put our guts into this and we knew it was going to be hard. We went for it and we basically didn’t have enough time to get the boat into race mode.
“We want to see if we can beat the other guys anyhow. We will be starting just after the other boats and seeing if we can catch them up.”