Josh Hall has been dismasted in high winds and heavy seas and is motoring to the Chatham Islands; Brad Van Liew has been diverted as a precaution

The Around Alone Race Operations Center (ROC) in Charleston, South Carolina, received a message via COMSAT email at 2310 GMT from British competitor Josh Hall (Gartmore Investment Management) saying that his boat had been dismasted in high winds and heavy seas. Hall is sailing on Leg 3 of Around Alone, a singlehanded yacht race around the world, from Auckland, New Zealand, around Cape Horn to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Hall’s initial message said “Disaster – lost the mast an hour ago and am just about finished cutting it away. It failed below the first spreader by the look of it. Hull and deck appear intact and have salvaged the staysail… Will be setting jury rig and aim to head for Chatham Islands to regroup.”

ROC has diverted American competitor Brad Van Liew (BALANCE BAR), whose position was 160 nautical miles astern of Hall, in the direction Hall must go to reach the Chatham Islands, where there is a population of 600 people, an airport and telephone facilities. Van Liew messaged ROC saying, ” I… can assist if necessary… The seas are 15-20 and I have 35 knots (of wind) but can make the point to sail safely.”

The Chatham Islands are about 280 miles northwest of Hall’s position. He is using his auxiliary engine and is motoring at 4 to 5 knots with 45 gallons of fuel on board. Hall could reach the Chatham’s in about three to five days and will likely be intercepted by Van Liew in 12 to 15 hours in case he needs assistance.

Hall is suffering from a cold and flu but reports now that he is not in danger.

ROC is monitoring Hall’s progress minute to minute via COMSAT satellite communications tracking services.