Liz Wardley, the promising young Australian sailor, is dismasted at the Shingles in the solo Figaro race

A calamitous start from Portsmouth has put the young Australian sailor Liz Wardley out of the running for the single-handed Figaro race. The 25-year-old, who is racing in this high octane one-design fleet for the first time, was dismasted at the Shingles at the start of the second leg to St-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie in France.

Wardley, racing her 10m Beneteau Figaro 2 Kookaï, was tacking to clear the Shingles Bank when she heard a loud bang. She checked the boat but could see no cause. “I continued racing and nothing was wrong and when I tacked back the mast went over the side.”

“It looks like the pin that holds the cap shroud in just broke and I could not see it because it was broken inside the terminal. I didn’t realise it was broken until the mast went in the water.”

One piece of good fortune salvaged from the bad luck is that the mast toppled – and remained – in one piece. The stanchions punched three holes in the mainsail, but Wardley is optimistic that the rigging and sail can be repaired in time for the third leg of the race to Gijon in Spain.

She has been offered help from 3M, one of the race sponsors, to get her boat back into the race.

Meanwhile, Sam Davies is currently fighting it out in the middle of the fleet. The leaders are separated by fractions of miles and the placings at this point are not hugely significant, as many of the tactical challenges lie at the later stages of the leg and depend to a great extent on how much verve and energy the sailors have reserved.

The area of self-management is one Davies has been focussing on, as she told us in Portsmouth earlier this week. “On [the last] leg I went from 19th place to 6th in the last 12 hours and it’s the same on every leg. You can win maybe 15 places or, worse, you can lose 15 places if you’re too tired and you make one small mistake. Even arriving at the finish line is where some people can profit and a lot of people can lose.”

Follow her progress at