Tiscali Global Challenge, skippered by Italian Simone Bianchetti, was dismasted this morning in mistral winds of 40 knots while lying fourth in the Regata Rubicon

At 0444 UT this morning, Tiscali Global Challenge, skippered by Italian Simone Bianchetti, dismasted in mistral winds of 40 knots and a short, steep Mediterranean sea. Currently in fourth place, the boat is sailing under staysail alone right now and the team are safe and unharmed. They are trying to hoist part of the mainsail again as a jury rig, and are intending to rally on to the finish of the Regata Rubicon at Sta. Margherita Ligure.

“It was around 0444 UT this morning when we dismasted,” explained Simone Bianchetti. “We were changing from genoa to solent, I had gone up to the bow because the solent wouldn’t unfurl properly and bang! The mast snapped!”

The crew saved the two sections broken, the shrouds and sails, which at least will allow them to make an assessment of the partial damage. “Was it the shrouds?” asks Simone. “I don’t know right now, but thankfully no-one was hurt and the hull is in no way damaged. We’re making 8 knots boat speed under staysail towards Sta. Margherita.”

The skipper Simone Bianchetti and crew of Stefano Raspadori, Mauro Piani, Yannick Bestaven and Tanguy Delamotte on Tiscali Global Challenge are 134 miles from the finish port of Sta. Margherita, to the SW of Marseilles, France. The mistral winds have whipped up the sea, and so the Franco-Italian team on board Tiscali are working on a jury rig in pretty difficult conditions, which will continue to dominate the course between the Côte d’Azur and Corsica. Their ETA looks to be around Wednesday morning, 24 hours after the incident itself.

In the last 24 hours since taking the lead back from Bobst Group – Armor Lux (Stamm), the red team on Sill Plein Fruit (Jourdain) have pushed out an even greater distance of 43 miles. Back up to fast speeds of around 18 knots on average in the last few hours, with two reefs in the mainsail and staysail up, Sill Plein Fruit is in her element, driving straight towards the finish of the second leg of the Regata Rubicon.

“We could arrive in 10 hours with this kind of average speed, but we won’t keep this pace up the whole way. So we should arrive in the evening but who knows, it’s not over yet,” remarked Bilou at 0500hrs GMT radio chat this morning. “It was a long slow process to win back the lead. We came out of the night before just ahead, and were still in close contact. And the tiniest fraction of advance that we had helped us to pick up half a knot more wind than the others and that’s how you extend your lead. I wanted to position the boat to the North to pick up the Mistral and that’s what we did. At dusk, we gybed, the wind came in and off we went!”

Flat seas, 40 knots overnight and the leading boat was trucking along at 20 – 21 knots, eating up the miles where the others astern were still fighting with lighter breezes. “We only picked up the stronger winds, about 25 knots, just 20 minutes ago,” said Dominique Wavre on board Temenos, who has seen his boat slip to 98 miles behind the leader, from being only 5 miles behind 24 hours ago. “We broke another batten too but this one can’t be repaired. I only hope we can finish without tearing the main sail.”

“It wasn’t that much of a shock to see this morning’s positions,” responded Bernard Stamm on board Bobst Group – Armor Lux. “It stands to reason that the boat which touches the fresh wind first will rocket off. But we still have to finish, and cross the bay of Genoa. Certainly, if the wind holds there won’t be much more we can really do!”