Josh Hall’s horrendous run of luck at the helm of various Gartmores has struck once again and the Finot Open 60 is currently limping towards St Malo minus the port rudder and sections of the surrounding hull

Gartmore was making 14-17 knots towards St Malo in the fifth leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge at 0400 this morning when she struck something very solid. With the aid of jackets, lifejackets and a braced hatch cover, the ingress of water can now be dealt with by half hourly bursts on the bilge pumps. Josh Hall takes up the story:

“Last night we struck something in the water and it completely broke off our port rudder. Being on starboard gybe, the port rudder was the one in use and the hole in the bottom of the boat that was left immediately allowed a huge amount of water into the lazerette.

“We immediately gybed and went close hauled to lift the hole clear of the water. Plugging the 15cm (6”) diameter hole, which was actually the rudder bearing with no rudder shaft in it, was the primary concern. First I stripped off my Musto jacket and shoved it in, and shortly after Javier had the great idea off inflating a lifejacket in the hole.

“This bought us the time to pump and bail the water out. Then we could sort a more watertight solution. We found a carbon inspection disc in the engine bay that luckily fitted the inside the flanged bearing exactly. This is now Sikaflexed into the bearing with half of our boat hook wedged between it and the deckhead to keep it in place.

“Now we can only sail very conservatively on starboard gybe as we have to keep the windward rudder in the water. Whenever we can sail on port gybe or tack we should be able to sail normally, but we are way under-canvassed right now as the wind is in the southwest still.”

Although Hall and his crew are “quite simply gutted” by the accident, they have decided to continue racing. The ridge of high pressure that has slowed the leaders will make it difficult for Hall and his crew to keep the damaged section clear of the water but by the time they reach that point, a more watertight solution should be in place.

It’s atrocious luck for Hall and his crew and no doubt the fleet’s sympathies are being tapped out to Race HQ at this moment.