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10 December 2007, 10:09 am
Fast, Furious And Frightening
PRB's broken mast
PRB's broken mast

Barcelona World Race 2007-08

The Southern Ocean has struck in the Barcelona World Race, with PRB losing the top of her mast and Estrella Damm reporting serious rudder damage.
With the sudden switch of the wind to the south, the fleet are now experiencing classic Southern Ocean boat breaking conditions...But these are classic conditions on the northern side of a southern ocean depression.

The new swell generated by the freezing wind from Antarctica, is mixing dangerously with previous north westerly driven sea to create a dangerous sea that looks a bit like the inside of an egg box! With big tumbling peaks that pop out of nowhere, and insanely deep troughs, the boat can't find a comfortable line through the chaos; instead it just smashes its way through. Slowing down doesn't help, the seas are just too confused...

Alex THOMSON (GBR) on Hugo Boss has water temperature of 4 degrees this morning, certainly cold enough for existence of ice. An extra worry for the skippers who have done five days at a relentless pace without let up.

Fast, furious and frightening - into the south…

PRB And Estrella Damm Heading To Cape Town

After losing the race lead to Paprec-Virbac 2 on Friday, things went from bad to much worse for skippers Vincent RIOU (FRA) and Sébastien JOSSE (FRA) aboard PRB on Saturday. On Saturday morning, the team which has been alternating the race lead with Paprec-Virbac 2 over the past three weeks, lost the top three metres of its mast, making it impossible to continue racing. Both skippers are safe and the boat is now sailing towards Cape Town.

"What happened is quite simple to explain," said skipper RIOU by video-conference with race headquarters in Barcelona. "We were sailing at about 20 knots under the big gennaker [and with a reef in the mainsail] and Sébastien and I were down below with the auto-pilot on looking at the weather conditions, when we hit a wave and heard a crack. We thought we had broken a halyard or something. At no time did we imagine we'd lost the top of the mast. We went on deck and we saw the main sail still in place but the top part of the mast hanging down. It's finished for us."

At 18:00 UTC on Sunday co-skipper Jonathan MCKEE (USA) on board Estrella Damm, skippered by Guillermo ALTADILL (ESP), contacted the shore team to report serious damage to their port rudder. The duo had experienced damage to their starboard rudder only the day before, after colliding with an object in the water, which they had managed to fix; however, in this separate incident, the damage to the port rudder can not be fixed on board the boat and ALTADILL and MCKEE have made the decision to divert to Cape Town to effect repairs with the assistance of their shore team. Estrella Damm is approximately 620 miles south-west of Cape Town.

MCKEE reported to his shore team: "We were sailing along in 30 knots of breeze in big seas, the same thing happened as with the other one but unlike the starboard rudder [damaged the previous day] this time it didn't swing up in the same way so I guess it spent a longer time in the water. The damage is a lot more severe, the shaft around the rudder stock is completely broken [this is the tube that surrounds the stock and holds the two bearings at the top and bottom of the stock together] and appears split horizontally. Is it fixable? We're not sure. It would require a lot of carbon work, more than we could achieve on board. We've made the decision to head to Cape Town and have informed Race Direction team of the Barcelona World Race."

Top Four Through Gate Four

Over the weekend, Paprec-Virbac 2 led the top four boats through the fourth scoring gate. The race leader passed the gate to complete the fourth stage at 22:42 on Saturday night.

Skippers Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA) and Damian FOXALL (IRL) were followed by Veolia Environnement (02:19 Sunday morning) and Hugo Boss (05:25). On Sunday afternoon, Delta Dore became the fourth boat to cross the scoring gate this afternoon (13:37).

The leading two boats have added slightly to their lead over the past day, sailing in slightly better conditions than the others. By this morning's 08:00 UTC poll, Paprec-Virbac 2 had extended her lead to 100nm, although in second place Veolia Environnement is recording the best speed of the fleet at 20.9 knots.

Yesterday, Temenos II skipper Dominique WAVRE (SUI) spoke on the video-conference about the strong winds and big waves they had been sailing in over the past day or so. He says the auto-pilot is doing the bulk of the steering, with the boat surfing at speed down enormous, rolling swells. He says their top speed surfing is 34 knots and emailed in a photo of the knotmeter as evidence!

Barcelona World Race -
Barcelona World Race (As Amended by ISAF)
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