The Monster.com Transat Record attempt has come to a screeching halt. Many of you will have heard this news already. Heart Break and a few tears from me. A serious disappointment for all of us.
My first report was one of thanks and pride. To be the skipper of one of the worlds fastest sailing boats is an honor, a privilege and a gigantic thrill. To have super sponsors and supporters and a great sailing team and to have the opportunity to attack this record is a thrill. It is a job that comes with way too many hours of grunt work, worry and tension that is only occasionally rewarded with ideal sailing days like yesterday and last night. Then a Titanic-ish disaster strikes.
The departure was superb, conditions ideal, film and photos top quality, crew working like a well greased machine, the press starting to crank up the story, our Monster cat burning up the ocean. In France we were on the all the news all last night and into this morning. Over there they love this type of sailing adventure. Just what we needed, good interest and excellent predictions for great wind and seas all the way to the Lizard.
I am always cautious, I hate breaking boats! Ok we are adventurers and we know the risks. I raised my concerns in my first report after hitting a small bit of garbage at 25 plus knots with our port bow and rudder and knocking off a chunk of fairing at the waterline stripe, an early warning. By late afternoon the fog had engulfed us in 100 foot visibility thick moisture .The masthead in the clouds. Traveling at 30 knots we would be making about a half boat length a second, one length in 2 seconds. Not much time for quick steering reactions. This once pristine ocean is full of human garbage!
During the night we had crossed the paths of fishing boats and had a too near encounter with a huge cargo ship close to the convergence zone of the Boston shipping lanes for me to find any comfort in my bunk. Scary fast and fun sailing. Proceed with caution. No we are not crazy.
We had near perfect conditions, we had established a nice lead of over 45 miles on the old record in the first 14 hours and had sailed 367 miles in that time on pace for a 610 mile day and settled into a comfortable and fast pace. 20 to 25 knots of wind, boat speed hovering around 28 knots full main, staysail and quad gennaker hauling us down the track for a rendezvous of Newfoundland with a weather system as good as one good ask for. On Paper – railroad tracks laid straight to the Lizard
A couple of more bumps to leeward, junk bouncing off our port dagger board, hull and rudder to leeward. Crossing the Georges Bank, asking why is there so much junk in the ocean here and why are we smacking into it. Swirling currents, Gulf Streams eddies, Labrador currents and millions of people tossing their garbage into the sea close by. We had sailed around the world and hit nothing!
Then at daylight 0530 I had finally closed my eyes and was sleeping or at least dozing in a bunk just below the helmsman when a huge bang startled, adrenalin shooting through my neurons. I was on deck in a flash thinking that the pole had broken and expecting to see the mast tumbling down. It took a few seconds to zoom my eyes on to the leeward port bow which was definitely broken off and oscillating wildly in all directions. Broken off aft of the forward beam. Not what one would have expected from a collision with a ?
We hit something, Stuart McKelvey was further aft in the windward cockpit and believes that what he saw closely resembled a section of an overtuned white boat with a red waterline stripe about 15 feet long. No one else saw a thing. It was too foggy to even see the tip of the mast. Our speed barely slowed. The UFO (unidentified floating object) disappeared in the soup behind. Sails where dropped within minutes
The impact caused the sacrificial crash box on the knuckle of the bow to shear off just as designed. The shock from the crash must have caused t