Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart onboard Foncia have had to retire from the Barcelona World Race after they broke their mast at close to 03:00 UTC on Wednesday 26 January 2011.
Foncia, lying in second place in the race, had been sailing under mainsail with one reef and staysail in 30 knots of south westerly wind. The top of the mast is reported to have broken off between the Solent forestay and the staysail forestay.
The broken section of the mast is saved on the deck, leaving around 24 metres of mast remaining. The crew of Foncia are both okay and are sailing towards Cape Town.
They said, "The mast broke above the Solent hound, in other words around 25 metres above the deck (27.3m long tube). The rigging is still up held in place by the lower shrouds, the runners, the staysail stay and main jib stay.
"The broken section is hanging down at 20m up and is still held in place by the halyards. The Solent, unfurled, because in use when the damage occurred was twisted around the whole mast.
"The mainsail is held by its halyard at the third reef. Everything has stayed on board, nothing lost overboard. I can't hide our disappointment, but we are healthy except I have a little pain in my right thumb which I got when I was trying to get the Solent under control."
Foncia is expected to arrive in Cape Town on 30 or 31 January.
Event website - www.barcelonaworldrace.org