The Argentinean Navy War Ship Suboficial Castillo has started towing Cheyenne to Comodoro Rivadavia, a safe harbour on the east coast of Argentina. They are making five knots and skipper David SCULLY estimates an ETA of 0000 GMT on 11 March. SCULLY lived in Argentina for almost ten years and is fluent in Spanish and understands the culture.
Navigator aboard Cheyenne Wouter VERBRAAK (NED) described what happened in a report last night…
It is 0709 local time [approximately 1030 GMT - Ed] when disaster strikes on the maxi-cat Cheyenne. With a loud bang and the sound of cracking carbon the mast falls over the side. Five seconds that bring an end to our non-stop round the world race. Having conquered the Southern Ocean and rounded Cape Horn just one day earlier, we were well on our way to the waypoint in Punta del Este with favourable offshore winds. Nothing to hint at what was coming. We are devastated...
After having gathered all crew on deck, we make sure we are not making water and the hulls aren't in any immediate danger. Nobody got hurt, that is most important. The mast is hanging down on the starboard side and is making awful cracking sounds, but it is in no way damaging the hull. Seas are flat and winds are around 25 knots, which makes the cutting of the rig and running rigging easy.
The on-watch is relating that they saw the lower shroud give away, after which the rig fell to leeward. Closer inspection of the terminal shows that the aluminum is completely sheared of. We are very lucky that it didn't give in a week ago in the Southern Ocean. It could have happened any time…
Have we pushed the boat to hard? Was there anything we could have done to avoid this? Questions that are going through everybody's mind, but probably will never be answered. We have made a strong effort to nurse the boat around the course, but the immense strains on the boat can not be avoided. At the time of the dismasting we were not in any boat breaking conditions that is sure. We can rest our minds with the knowledge that we have put in maximum, but it will be hard on us in the next weeks I am sure.
Everybody is safe, and that is the most important.