Central Lechera Asturiana breaks mast in Tasman and are heading for NZ

Around 18:15 UTC yesterday evening (Tuesday 1 March) the mast of Central Lechera Asturiana broke with half of the spar falling into the water.

Co-skippers Juan Merediz and Fran Palacio are reported to be unhurt and have managed to recover the broken half of the spar and the genoa which went in the water. All of the standing rigging is reportedly largely intact.

They have managed to set a jury rig comprising part of their mainsail and small staysail and were making a speed of around 7 knots towards Farewell Point.

“Fortunately there has not been any injuries of any kind to either of us, both Fran and I are fine,” Merediz confirmed in a phone conversation with his team. “We do not wish to retire, we wish to carry on.”

Central Lechera Asturiana are heading for Wellington which was 290 miles from their reported position. On arrival in the New Zealand capital they will carry out a detailed assessment of the damage with representatives of North Sails and Southern Spars. When the incident happened the IMOCA Open 60 was approximately 160 miles west of Cape Farewell, heading for the Cook Strait and lying in 11th place.

Speaking on live Visio-Conference this morning Merediz had been ruing the extremely light winds which they had encountered through Sunday and part of Monday but today were revelling in fresh breezes, reporting over 30 kts of wind during the live link up and surfing at 22 kts at times.
Merediz explained that they were making around 15kts of boat speed with around 20-25kts of wind at 140-160 degrees in a heavy crossed sea when the rig gave way.

After breaking their mast off Lisbon on the 2 December whilst on the delivery passage from Sanxenxo to Barcelona, they had a three-week window to step a replacement rig on time and managed to make the race start on 31 December. Central Lechera Asturiana made a technical pit-stop in Cape Town to repair their hydraulics for their keel ram.

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