British sailor Nick Bubb breaks boom in 50kts of wind 8/11/06

The latest news from the Route du Rhum racecourse shows Nick Bubb having broken his boom during vicious conditions in the Atlantic.

In his latest report Bubb reported to have experienced some of the worst conditions of his sailing career with winds gusting up to 50kts combined with a huge seaway. In the same conditions that led to the capsize of Ross Hobson’s boat last night Bubb was forced to crash gybe while he was on the foredeck narrowly escaping injury while he hung on for dear life.

Talking about the sequence of events Bubb said: “It was pitch black and, with waves breaking over the deck, I felt it was best to let the pilot get on with it. After an hour or so I braved the foredeck to check everything was OK with my Solent, which was furled away, and to retrieve some loose lines. Whilst I was up there the boat surfed down one particularly big wave and bore away as the wind angle changed, unfortunately just a tiny bit too much and the boat crash gybed whilst I hung on for dear life.

“I worked my way back to the cockpit not too concerned, crash gybing is something which does inevitably happen to solo sailors every now and again and with no spinnakers up and such a tiny mainsail there should be no problems. As I cleared the reefed part of the mainsail off the coachroof and prepared to gybe back I noticed the angle of the outboard end of the boom to the mast was wrong and my heart fell as my brain calculated what had happened.

“As ever I had put a preventer on the boom with a fuse system for such circumstances and this had worked properly it seemed, the fuse was broken anyway… So, I can only conclude that the boom broke (in the middle) when the end hit the runner. We always thought the section looked a little small when it turned up from the manufacturer a few days before my qualifier…

“Anyway, I then fought the huge flapping mainsail and boom pieces down onto the deck,removed the headboard car and lashed them all down. At the moment I am still running downwind with just my staysail trying to decide what to do, I am in the middle of the Atlantic with no struts/poles/tubes to splint the boom with and I am very unlikely to have enough food, water or fuel (to charge the batteries with) to make it to the Caribbean in this state, coupled with that we have headwinds forecast in a few days.”

Bubb is now considering his options with the most likely route at this stage being to limp across to the Azores – 500 miles away to the east, adding: “I think it looks like my best option, once this gale passes. It will mean retiring from the race something, which in the last five years and around 40 offshore races, I have only had to do once before (even the broken mast on the trimaran in the Round Britain earlier this summer didn’t stop us…) but it does seem to be the only sensible thing to do. I will be endangering myself to carry on in this disabled state and any further issues would make a tough situation very difficult. After all the hard work from so many people that has gone into making this project happen, I am totally devastated but left with little option.”