Cheyenne's headboard car, which carries the weight of the mainsail, and locks it into position on the mast, has torn from the mast track
Once again, the worst has happened. Sailing in violent seas this morning, the headboard car, which carries the weight of the mainsail, and locks it into position on the mast, was torn from the mast track along with the reinforced section of track upon which it was riding. At the moment we are proceeding toward Cape Horn under double reefed main and headsail, all chance of a record time to the Horn, gone.
This is a devastating breakdown, but perhaps not unrecoverable. The headboard car is largely undamaged. The mast track is, of course, destroyed at the first reef position. It may be possible to remove section of track from the third reef position, and use it to replace the damaged area at the first reef position. We will then have to pirate some track sections from other places on the boat to replace the reinforced area we are stealing. This will give us back our potential to raise the mainsail to full hoist, and use the first reef position, at the expense of using the third reef. Hopefully the trip up the Atlantic can be accomplished in moderate weather.
This is not a straightforward repair at sea. We will have to remove a dozen sheared bolts using our battery drill and bolt removal tools. Then the third reef insert will have to be removed, and bolted on to the first reef position. Finally, several odd bits of track will have to be spliced into the hole this leaves. And all this must be done hanging from a halyard, 30 metres above the deck, in a seaway.
We have enough sail up to make it around the Horn. As soon as we pass this milestone, we will be looking for a calm spot to make the repair. Naturally, the crew is devastated, but not despairing. To be sailing a crippled boat is a most frustrating experience. To be losing time on Orange is worse. But there is still the hope that this can be repaired and that we can complete our mission, and while hope persists, we must remain confident.