Sill Plein Fruit breaks fitting that attaches the forestay to the deck. They are continuing to Baltimore under reduced sail. Kingfisher has slipped into the lead.
BALTIMORE, USA - Leg 3 and overall race leader, Sill Plein Fruit reported today that they had sustained damage to their rig. Sill Plein Fruit has held onto the top spot in the EDS Atlantic Challenge since leaving Portsmouth 12 days ago, and fended off advances from Kingfisher (Ellen MacArthur) on a number of occasions until this morning when the leaderboard showed the British yacht in the lead for the first time. Skipper Gael Le Cleac'h reported via satellite phone that they had broken a titanium tang that attaches the forestay to the deck.
"Our forestay broke this morning at 06:00 GMT. We managed to keep the mast from toppling, which was the main priority. We had to stop for four hours to get everything back into place before we could get back on our route towards Baltimore," reported Le Cleac'h in a phone call to his shore team. "We were sailing upwind in a moderate wind. Everything was fine on board, when suddenly the forestay fitting snapped. The helmsman immediately bore away, and that's what saved the mast."
A calm Le Cleac'h continued to describe how they salvaged the headsail and continued under a reefed mainsail and staysail. He also noted that it was this incident that had allowed Kingfisher to pass them.
Sill Plein Fruit was just east of Sable Island, a small, sandy strip of land 120 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia when the incident happened. With the wind forecast to swing into the northwest and be fairly light, Sill Plein Fruit might not be hampered by the lack of their largest headsail. "There is still everything to play for in the race," reported Le Cleac'h. A full report of the events leading up to and surrounding the incident, with quotes from an interview with Gael Le Cleac'h will be released tomorrow.
At 19:40 GMT, on a distance to finish (DTF) reading, the positions were as follows:
1st Kingfisher (Ellen MacArthur - UK) DTF - 1055 miles
2nd Sill Plein Fruit (Gael Le Cleac'h - FR) DTF + 3 miles
3rd Ecover (Mike Golding - UK) DTF + 45 miles
4th Gartmore (Josh Hall - UK) DTF + 385 miles
5th AlphaGraphics (Helena Darvelid - SWE) DTF + 883 miles
Fila (Andrea Scarabelli - IT) not racing