A startline incident with the VO60 Venom at Antigua Sailing Week resulted in damage to Mari Cha's bow. Fortunately there were no crew injuries and damage to the boat was relatively small

There’s no getting away from the fact that Mari Cha IV, Robert Millar’s 140ft superyacht, has stolen the show at Antigua Sailing Week. This 10-million US Dollar, all carbon/Kevlar downwind flyer which recently broke the Transatlantic record and the speed record from Guadeloupe to Antigua on Friday, is the biggest distraction on the water and it’s impossible not to be impressed as she effortlessly glides through the fleet at 24kts.

As a boat designed to break world records and win ocean races it’s an interesting decision to bring her to such an event which centres around short round-the-cans type racing and involves lots of starts and close quarter racing among a mixed ability fleet. With this in mind it wasn’t particularly surprising to hear of a startline coming together on Monday that resulted in damage to bow of the sparkling new Mari Cha. Interestingly, the other boat in the collision, Venom a chartered VO60, lost her backstay but other than that got away fairly lightly.

Talking about Monday’s incident Jef D’etiveaud, team manager aboard Mari Cha, said: “These guys came out of nowhere at the start from above reaching at 90 degrees true. We were both on starboard but they were coming down on us as windward boat and then stopped in the middle of the line.”

When the incident happened, before they knew the extent of the damage, the crew immediately shut off the three bulkheads in front of the first hatch. Fortunately because the damage was just to the bow crash box and there was no structural damage, there was no water ingress and a repair job was carried out over night to ensure they were back on the water the next day. D’etiveaud reckons that after yesterday’s race in 25kts of breeze, the repair will probably hold for the rest of the week. He added: “Interestingly and fortunately, not a lot happed to Venom because we absorbed most of the energy. They were very lucky they didn’t get injured because we were going 13kts at the time.”

Mike Sanderson who was on the helm at the time expressed his surprise about how few people seem to be unaware of the consequences of getting too close on the racecourse. He said: “With this size of boat, with a fleet of this calibre you’re really relying on everyone knowing their rules and it always amazes me the way people play ‘chicken’ with us. I don’t think they really know the consequences. For example, we’re going through the Beneteau fleet at approximately 24kts and they’re doing 6-7kts. We know what our boat can do and we’re not at any risk of hitting anyone, we’re in perfect control, we don’t put it in any compromising situations we allow a certain amount for the slipping over but if someone blatantly does something too late and gives us no time or opportunity – it’s the same as walking out in front of a truck what’s the driver supposed to do?”

After lay day today, and a bit more work to the bow, Mari Cha IV should be back on the water again tomorrow for the penultimate day’s racing in Racing Big Boat I.