More misery in Around Alone as Simone Bianchetti's rig topples in three parts

There has been more misery for the sailors in Around Alone. At 0350 GMT this morning, Simone Bianchetti’s Open 60 Tiscali was dismasted. He had a very fast run since leaving Brest late on Friday night and was 90 miles from Finisterre in 16-20 knots when his mast broke in three parts. He was not injured and, remarkably, has been trying to retrieve what he can to make a jury rig and continue to La Coruña – exceptionally difficult work in worsening conditions.

Race chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston commented: “We are desperately sorry to hear of Tiscali’s dismasting. Simone is a tough and experienced sailor and this will be a great frustration to him. We hope he can clear the mess of mast and rigging from the boat and be able to make a safe port quickly.

‘Since Around Alone is scored on a points system and not elapsed time, Simone could only earn minimum points for this leg if he is able to find a replacement mast and rejoin the race, and this would give him three more legs to catch up and show us his mettle.”

The only news this morning from the four skippers still racing is from Bernard Stamm. The wind has moderated and he is screaming south in 35 knots, though he says it is still very tough going and he is getting shaken by sustained gusts of 50-plus knots. He has been able to rest a little and is cheered at having stretched his lead on Emma Richards, who is now lying 2nd. “I’ve always had more wind than my friends to the east, but I’m making good progress and laying the course, so I’m happy.”

Stamm is already looking at the next hurdle which, ironically, is an area of calms. He is not expecting much change in the next 24 hours, but after that the winds will weaken and the race will turn rapidly from a brawl to a game of tactics.

Meanwhile, most of the other competitors are sheltering in the Spanish port of Vigo. Brad Van Liew sent a report yesterday explaining the lengths to which local clubs and sailors have gone to help the skippers.

‘This was the home base for the last Spanish America’s Cup Campaign and the locals take their sailboat racing very seriously. Throughout the day and night Around Alone race boats arrived and with each boat the support got more impressive. Hard bottom inflatables were sent to each arrival to ensure a safe passage and all the services necessary to get us back on the road as quickly as possible are in full swing. To top it off, the yacht club hosted all of us to a dinner last night to welcome us to their safe haven.

‘Part of what I find interesting about this situation is that no coalition was formed. Each skipper has made an independent decision to incur a 48-hour penalty and lose the time in port. This is a group of dedicated and experienced yacht racing professionals who are not easily driven ashore. I think this group has proven that reckless abandon is definitely not the order of the day among single-handed racing.’