Disaster for Mike Golding's Ecover as her mast came tumbling down in the third of three races held today at Trophee des Monocoque de Larmor-Plage Grand Prix for the Open 60s and 50s in Lorient, France. The crew are safe, with the exception of one crew who has a cut to the forehead.
After problems with their spinnaker halyard yesterday, today Ecover did well in the opening races today on a 'banana' shaped course. During the third offshore race Ecover's starboard deck spreader (outrigger) broke causing the rig to fall over. The incident occurred in moderate conditions as Ecover was going through a tack.
"We broke the starboard outrigger and caused the mast fall," commented Ecover's French tactician immy Pahun. "One crew member has a slight facial wound. The mast will be taken from Le Defi base and taken along to Espace Composite to be repaired as fast as possible."
The outriggers, which give the boat the look of a trawler (see photo - Ecover and Sill on her starboard side have them), are designed to give the mast a wider shroud base thereby allowing lighter weight rigging to be used. They were first used on Yves Parlier's Aquitaine Innovations, the first Open 60 monohull to be fitted with a rotating wingmast.
Espace Composites, the carbon fibre spar manufacturers who have made many Open 60 monohull and trimaran wingmasts, will have to give the mast a thorough going over, for although the spar is believed to be intact, its carbon fibre construction can easily have been structural damaged in the fall which an external inspection will not reveal. Fortunately on the crew for this race is one of the boat's designers Pascal Conq who will certainly be able to add valuable assistance.
For Golding the pressure will now be on to see if the mast is in a fit state to be stepped and a new outrigger built in time for the Regate de Rubicon offshore race next weekend. We hope for his sake that there is no internal damage to the mast.
This is the second time this boat's mast has come down. The first occasion was within 24 hours of the start of the Vendee Globe Challenge. On that occasion Golding was able to fit his spare mast.
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Ecover showing her deck spreaders.