The crew of the Beneteau First 44.7 Notorious have made it safely to Opua, welcomed by Manuela Hornell, wife of Ave Gitana crew meter Chris Hornell.
Christiaan Arns and his crew were in good spirits, but were obviously devastated by the outcome and the decision they needed to make.
Arns, who is also a member of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club organising committee for this years race, was emotional as he formally advised that Notorious had to withdraw.
“We are numb. Devastated. It’s been an emotional 24 hours,” said Arns. “But we decided that we will head to Fiji anyway, this time by plane!”
A mechanical engineer is now assessed and repaired the damage.
“We had a blockage that could not be fixed at sea. It would have been too dangerous to attempt, but now everything is sorted, the engine is going again and for now the boat will stay in Opua,” continued Arns.
The original plan had the boat racing to Fiji, then having a brief stop over before heading to Noumea. Now that has changed and Notorious will stay in Opua for a month before heading directly to Noumea for the Groupama Race.
Notorious was tracked as they made their way to Opua. Customs was on standby to clear as soon as they docked. The yachting community has come together to support Notorious and the decision that they made.
“The safety of the crew is the most important thing,” said RAYC Fiji based Port Captain Jenny Price.
“If Notorious had of come into difficulty, and needed to use their engine for manoeuvrability, then the crew could have been put at risk. We support Christiaan’s decision. It shows that his seamanship is second to none,” continued Price.
Meanwhile the rest of the fleet is steaming towards Fiji. The race record is undoubtably set to the broken by Team Vodafone Sailing.