Dismasted trimaran is back on Round Britain and Ireland race track again. Nick Bubb reports 30/6/06

Nick Bubb and Pete Cumming broke the mast of their trimaran Kenmore while lying in second place in the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race, just 70 miles off Barra. They managed to erect a jury rig and limp to the shore. Here’s Bubb’s latest report from the race where he explains how they managed to beat the clock and fix the mast and complete the next leg?

It seemed obvious that we may as well fix the rig in Barra properly if at all possible, as it would need doing at some point and even if we retired we would still have to sail nearly 600 miles back to Plymouth. At 28 foot wide here is no chance of packing this boat up onto a trailer!!

Trying to find somewhere to do the work was the first job. Once again the legendary Ronnie from our B&B came to the rescue and managed to get us some space in the local council depot warehouse. It seemed ideal: big, waterproof and with lots of heavy machinery and rubbish bins. We had few options and this was the stand out winner!

Next up we had to recover everything off the boat, it was still blowing a gale outside but we went for it anyway. Pete and I got the sails off the boat and discovered that luckily only the mainsail was damaged and that was minor. We totally stripped the rig back to the bare tubes and then tied fenders to it and floated it back in alongside a RIB with help from Paul Larsen. Incidentally Pete [Goss] and Paul [Larsen] on Cornwall PFS had finished fixing up the structural damage on their boat and were now waiting for the weather to improve.

As we got a shore Ronnie was at hand again, this time with a Transit van to put all the rigging in and mast sections on top. We caused quite a traffic jam on the way up to the depot but everyone was interested and had advice to offer!

In the meantime I had also been arranging for Alex Haworth from Ocean Endeavours to come up with all the materials and tools that we would need to fix the tube. The basic plan was to make an internal sleeve for the rig, by laying up some off axis (45s) carbon fibre around a good part of the tube with release film on it and then crack this off and trim it to fit inside the tube. We would also need to make a closing plate and a new tube for the luff groove.
Once this was then all done, we would then vacuum the equivalent to the original mast laminate plus 25 per cent to the sleeve and taper this off up and down the rig with an overlap of something like 600 mm each end for the longest layer. Sounds simple in theory! Aside from this we had to reinforce all the shroud terminals and to repair the spreader and the tube around the spreader. By the time Alex had arranged things back home and got himself and all the materials to Barra it was Friday 23 June in the evening and I had a target to leave on the 27 June . This was to give Kenmore a chance of crossing the finishing line in Plymouth by 1200 on 9 July, which is the time the finish line officially closes. Although it would be great to make this, I feel the major sense of achievement will be making it round in one piece!

Anyway after Alex had arrived, the two of us worked night and day to get the work done and come the morning of the 26 June we had pretty much finished. Incredible even if I do say so myself. The owner Dave Barden who is also a rigger had arrived by now and he set about preparing the rig and together we formed a plan to lower the rig onto the boat off the ferry terminal at low tide. As usual there were several doubters of another crazy plan but it worked, although not with much time to spare before the ferry turned up! We finished tuning the rig and the various small repairs to the boat and were ready to leave late on the 26 June, ahead of the revised schedule?just.

Leg 3 report, take 2

Due to the obvious delays and resulting over run of the race Pete Cumming made the difficult decision that he would have to return home and drop out of the race due to other upcoming work commitments. Pete has been a great co-skipper bringing many skills to the project and putting in an enormous number of hours preparing the boat. Fortunately Alex Haworth, who qualified for the race by virtue of the fact he had sailed many miles on the boat with the former owner, was able to drop everything and come and join me for the last three legs.

During the last few days of repairs, we were constantly checking the weather forecast with Clemency Williams from Winning wind.com. At times it really seemed that the gods really were against us with another depression building out in the middle of the Atlantic and rolling our way. As it happened we would get part of this but never more than 25 knots, still enough to make me very nervous with the repaired rig but not enough to delay our restart further. Kenmore crossed the start line of Castlebay for the second time at 2350 on 26 June. Unfortunately in terms of the race our start time of one week ago is the one that counts.

It was very light and fickle on the way out to St Kilda, which we eventually rounded successfully this time in the early morning. We then had a building breeze from the south-west backing round to the south east which gave us a very fast run all the way to the legendary Muckle Flugga, the northern most point of the Shetlands at well over 60 degrees north. We got there at 2300 in what seemed like broad daylight, it has been one of the most interesting parts of the this race how much daylight we have had due to going so far north at this time of the year. It really makes the sailing all the more enjoyable. Having said that we then got a full blast of 25knots from the south for the remaining 60 miles south to Lerwick and the finish line, not too pleasant and certainly an extremely tense time onboard, trying to nurse the rig but also to test it. I was extremely conscious if something went wrong here we could end up on our way to Iceland.

Thankfully the rig came through this test and we slipped into Lerwick with the breeze dropping at 0911 on the 29 June. Amazingly after a week out of the race, we arrived only a few hours after the last boat left, putting us at the back of the fleet by 52 hours but still in with a chance of catching them.

The rig came through the test well, we have some modifications to do but essentially it looks ok, fingers crossed! There was a lot of halyard chafe due to the fact there was little time to make smooth new halyard exits and there are carbon splinters everywhere making rope handling extremely painful.

With southerly winds forecast for the next few days it is unlikely to be a quick or pleasant trip to Lowestoft but I’m hugely excited about having the opportunity to sail back to the east coast and meet up with so many old friends. We leave Lerwick on Saturday 1 July at 0911 and hope to get into Lowestoft late on Tuesday or very early Wednesday.