Open 60 Pindar forced to pull out of Transat Jacques Vabre after dismasting for the second time 26/10/07

Skippered by Brian Thompson, the Open 60 racing yacht was en route to Le Havre, prior to the start of the transatlantic race, the Transat Jacques Vabre, in which she was due to compete in eight days time. The mast fell backwards and then to windward onto the boat and the crew, however, there were no injuries and the crew are all safe and well. The mast, rigging and sails were cut free from the hull, which suffered minimal damage, to allow the crew to motor safely into Le Havre.

The dismasting took place nine miles north west of the entrance to the harbour of Le Havre, at 18.15 BST on Thursday 25 October. The boat was sailing close-hauled on port tack, in 12 knots of wind, sailing at a speed of 11 knots. The mast suffered one clean break, just under halfway up the 30 metre high mast, in a slightly lower position than the first breakage suffered by the boat during the Artemis Challenge at Skandia Cowes Week earlier this year.

Despite the structural repairs made to the mast, followed by extensive testing in the Solent and Atlantic including Brian Thompson and Will Oxley’s 1000 nautical mile qualifying sail for the TJV race, it appears that a further structural weakness in the mast remains. Having lost the mast, sails and rigging overboard by cutting them free last night, the team will now further inspect the hull. Brian, Will and the remainder of the Team Pindar Open 60 team will remain in Le Havre, supporting Pindar 40, Pindar’s second entry in the TJV race, skippered by Jo Royle and Alexia Barrier.

Brian Thompson, skipper of Pindar commented: “The dismasting is a huge set back to our race campaign, forcing us out of the Transat Jacques Vabre race which was due to begin on Saturday 3 November. My co-skipper for the race, Will Oxley, and crew of Boat Captain Nick Black, Pindar match racing sailor Ian Williams and Team Director Nick Crabtree, amongst others, showed fantastic teamwork in dealing with the dramatic event and it’s a huge relief that no one was hurt. We are incredibly disappointed not to be able to compete, especially so close to the start of the race, and as the team has put in so much hard work to get the boat to this point. Whilst we begin looking into our next options for a new mast, and preparing Pindar for our next competition, the Artemis Transat, in May 2008, Team Pindar will dedicate time to supporting Jo and Alexia in their preparations for the TJV, and we will be following and learning as much as we can from watching other Open 60s during the race itself.”

Pindar 40, Pindar’s second entry in this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre race in the Class 40 fleet, is currently making last minute preparations for the prologue race this Saturday. Skippered by Jo Royle and Alexia Barrier, Pindar 40 is the only all female entry in the 33 boat Class 40 fleet. Ian Williams, Pindar’s top British match racing sailor, will be onboard Pindar 40 calling tactics during the prologue race this Saturday. Currently top of the World Match Racing Tour, which culminates in December, Ian will return to the UK following the race to concentrate on preparations for the final two Tour events in Brazil and Malaysia.

Read more on Elaine Bunting’s blog