Dismasted Open 60 faces 400 miles motoring into the tradewinds with a 40hp engine


These Open 60 sailors are tough people.

Here’s what Armel Le Cleac’h said yesterday right after his new wingmasted boat Brit Air was dismasted yesterday 400 miles south-west of the Cape Verdes while racing in the Transat Ecover BtoB . If you’ve ever sailed in the tradewinds, you’ll know how unpleasant it is to turn round and face the other way. Just imagine hundreds of miles motoring into that in a flat-bottomed, mastless cork of a yacht with a puny 40hp engine.

“It occurred around lunchtime French time. I was down below when I heard a big crack. The mast broke and fell on the side of the deck. I’m a bit anxious about the damage it’s done to the deck.

“I managed to get the mast clear of the boat and it sank fast along with everything else. All I have left is one outrigger so there’s not enough to make up a jury rig.

“The Cape Verde islands are about 400 miles away so I’ll try and head there. I’m currently under motor at a reduced speed because both the wind and the sea is on the nose. We’re looking at whether there’s enough fuel or whether we can rendezvous with a ship to refuel or organise a tow.

“I don’t understand how it happened. I had about 20 knots of breeze, a bit of chop and not too much sail as I’d reduced earlier this morning. I’m disappointed but I’ll have to make do with it for now.”