The top six metres of mast will be rebuilt, but will it be in time for another start this season?

This morning the broken mast of Bruno Peyron’s 110ft catamaran Orange was unstepped at the Multiplast yard in France and the first analysis of what may have gone wrong was given. Designer Gilles Ollier, Peyron and his crew and the builders together reckon that the breakage about half a metre from the truck was ‘due to a weakness in the zone around the running backstay.’

Further investigations will be carried out, but one thing all agree on is how to go about making the repairs. The plan is to rebuild the entire upper part of the mast, the top six metres. Multiplast built the mast in 2001 – it and those of the two other Ollier-designed catamarans, Club Med and Team Adventure, have already been round the world without incident – and the yard still has the mould.

The reconstructed mast will be reinforced. “Once built, it will be fitted with a sleeve coupling above the top rigging using proven assembly methods”, explained Bruno Peyron. “Multiplast has the know-how, the people and the material to do what is required. The only outstanding question is how long it will take?”

Multiplast estimates that it will take between 15 and 19 days to do the job, which takes Peyron and his crew into March, right at the cusp of the season for a race through the Southern Ocean. Will it be too late? Peyron admits it’s touch and go, but says: “Don’t forget that Olivier de Kersauson, current holder of the Trophée Jules Verne, did not leave until 6 March in 1997. Right at the very start of the campaign, we had set ourselves the 10 March as our absolute deadline.”

He is hoping to restart at around that date.