What's going on with these wingmast tube failures?


What a crushing blow last night for poor Brian Thompson and Will Oxley. Their Open 60 Pindar was dismasted close to Le Havre last night. The pair and their shore team were on their way over for the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre race, which starts next week.

This was the new Juan K-designed boats’s second dismasting. The first was during Cowes Week, when the carbon wingmast snapped on her first race.

The mast was subsequently sleeved but it reportedly broke again just below the repair. That would make you think it was another tube failure at the next weakest spot, wouldn’t it?

The rig came down after dark and fell backwards, pinning several of the crew and bruising them, though fortunately not seriously injuring anyone. Pindar had been close-hauled in 12 knots of wind. The guys had seen up to 30 overnight and had not long beforehand made full sail.

The risks of trying to recover the rig in the dark were thought so great they cut it away. That really must have been painful, casting £300,000 worth into the briny.

A crying shame for Pindar and Brian Thompson, who is pictured above surveying the damage. The only possible upside for him is that now he can build a new rig for next year’s Vendée Globe, one that I’d guess might be more conservative than the option chosen originally by Mike Sanderson, and certainly a design in which he can have more confidence.

I wonder if we’ll see more ‘extreme wingmast’ action. You may remember that Vincent Riou’s wingmast-rigged PRB dismasted in the Route du Rhum last year. Several other new Open 60s are similarly rigged.