When you think about weather conditions that might lead to a major failure of your boat’s rig, you probably imagine big seas and a howling wind. That was not the case yesterday when the Clipper Race boat WesternAustralia 2011 lost a shroud which caused the mast to snap halfway up. The wind was a relatively balmy 10 to 15 knots. So much for easy predictions of mast failure.
From the press release: westernaustralia2011.com, one of the ten yachts competing in the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race, has been dismasted during the race from Qingdao to Hawaii.
At 0600 GMT on the eleventh day of the 4,400-nautical mile Pacific leg, the team representing Western Australia reported that their 81-foot (24.5 metres) mast had snapped approximately halfway down whilst sailing in approximately 10-15 knots of wind under spinnaker.
There are no injuries onboard and the crew of 12, including the professional skipper, has cut away the trailing rigging using hydraulic cutters to prevent damage to the 68-foot yacht?s hull. The yacht remains seaworthy and a full assessment of the damage is underway.
Skipper Martin Silk said: ?At 0600 GMT the starboard cap shroud [one of the wires supporting the mast] lower fitting sheared on our rigging and our mast folded at the mid point. Nobody was hit by the mast or rigging. We have now detached the rigging and cleared the lines and although darkness has stopped us from continuing to jury rig at this stage, we will continue at first light.?
The yacht is currently located approximately 700 nautical miles east of Yokohama, Japan in the Pacific Ocean. Due to strong winds from the west, the yacht will continue towards Hawaii under jury rig. The Clipper Race Team is looking at options for refuelling en route and it is likely that westernaustralia2011.com will head for the island of Midway approximately 1,400 miles from their current position.
Clipper Race Director Joff Bailey said: ?westernaustralia2011.com?s Skipper, Martin Silk, telephoned me early this morning soon after the incident. It was obvious that the skipper and crew were very calm and dealing with the situation in a professional and orderly fashion. The top half of the rig has now been cut away to prevent any risk of further damage to the hull. The crew are resting overnight before setting about the task of making a jury rig and continuing sailing.
?It is a testament to the skipper and crew, and the Clipper Training that they have all received, that they have dealt with a very difficult situation so well and so calmly. The Race Team is making plans to get westernaustralia2011.com safely to port in the quickest and safest way and get the team racing again as soon as possible.?
Clipper Ventures is in the process of sourcing a new mast section and rigging for the yacht so that westernaustralia2011.com can resume racing as soon as is practicably possible.
The reigning champions from Clipper 05-06 are currently lying in sixth place overall after six of the 14 races in the ten-month round the world series. When the dismasting occurred the team was in ninth place with 2,648 miles to run to Hawaii.