Abu Dhabi - Franck Cammas's French boat Groupama will be sailing the final stretch of the Volvo Ocean Race leg 2 on Wednesday with a hastily patched-up hull after a crack was discovered.
Groupama and the rest of the fleet were hoisted into an armed ship for transportation between a secret safe port and Sharjah last week.
Race organisers took the unprecedented step in order to avoid a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean after a spate of incidents last year off the eastern African coast.
From Sharjah, the five boats will sail to Abu Dhabi to complete the second leg, a distance of 98 nautical miles which will take up to seven hours.
The crack in Cammas's boat was spotted at the time of last week's loading and the crew went to work on fixing it on arrival in Sharjah, although a full repair will not be completed until after the fleet's arrival following leg 2 stage 2 into Abu Dhabi.
"It's a minor crack. It's annoying but we will try not to think too much about it," Cammas said. "It will be a minor brake on our performance."
A spokesperson for the team added that the cause of the crack was unknown and tests would take place during the stopover in Abu Dhabi.
The fleet completes the race's third in-port race on Jan. 13 with the third leg to Sanya in China starting the following day.
This is the first time that the 38-year-old race has visited the Gulf region.
It should be a spectacular race, with forecasts of winds up to 25 knots. The course takes the fleet initially out from the Sharjah coast before turning for a fast run parallel with the shore.
After rounding the final mark, the fleet will power directly towards the finish line at Abu Dhabi.
"This is pretty unusual," said Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's British skipper Ian Walker, who is looking forward to racing into his team's home port.
"We'll be going for a bit of glory in Stage 2. They've done a fantastic job here and I'm sure whatever the result there'll be a fantastic reception not just for us but for everyone."
Both Groupama and Abu Dhabi could do with collecting the maximum six points from Wednesday's race. They lie 25 and 44 points respectively adrift of Spanish leaders Telefonica who have 61.
Camper (Spain/New Zealand) are second on 54 with Puma fourth behind Groupama on 25 points and China's Team Sanya have only four. New Zealander Mike Sanderson's boat abandoned racing for leg 1 after suffering a badly broken hull and then a broken rig in leg 2 after leading the race.
Sanya is being repaired in Madagascar.