Disaster for Karine Fauconnier

As Sergio Tacchini dismasts in Route du Rhum

Friday November 15th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
1235: On board Kingfisher more near heart failure for Ellen MacArthur The rather important pin holding the starboard runner to the chainplate was on the verge of pulling out. Fortunately Ellen saw it in time and hammered it back in. "It's the nearest we've come to it all being over," said Mark Turner.

Designer Merfyn Owen points out that Kingfisher's rig is designed to stay up in 20 knot winds WITHOUT runners (ie the swept back spreaders keep the mast in). The runners are used primarily for headstay tension when going upwind or for keeping the mast in the boat when running with big spinnakers.

1200GMT positions on page 2...

With the brutal conditions now abating, the latest victim in the Route du Rhum is the only female competitor in class one multihull fleet.

At 0815GMT this morning Karine Fauconnier contacted her shore crew with the news that her trimaran Sergio Tacchini had broken its starboard float and had immediately dismasted. At 0700GMT her position was 38° 19.20 N 17° 42.40 W, midway between Lisbon and the Azores.

Fauconnier is unhurt and her team is arranging for her boat to be towed to Lisbon.

Following this incident, experienced while sailing in 30/35 knots of wind with gusts of up to 40 knots, Karine set off her distress beacon. She then cut away the rig and cleaned everything up to save the platform of the trimaran.

At 2248 GMT Wednesday evening, all was going well on board Sergio Tacchini as indicated in a message sent by Karine to Race HQ : "Everything is fine aboard, wind and seas still strong but the boat is going well. Big cumulo-nimbus clouds with more than 45-50 knots regularly. Rested, dried off, and fed, the girl is good."

Meanwhile Alain Gautier on Foncia has provided more details about his retirement: "Last night, I was sailing in a wind of 35 to 40 knots in strong seas with waves of 10 metres. In addition, it was a cross sea at the time which made the navigation very delicate. It was a pyramid-shaped wave which came in very quickly and took hold of
the boat underneath and that’s when I heard a big crack. It was dark but I had seen several waves of that type during the day. First of all the underside of the exterior coating was broken across a two metre wide area. I tried to repair it then the outer skin exploded along a five metre length to starboard.

In fact, the water was coming into the beams with every incoming wave. I am also heading for Madeira and I am retiring from the Route du Rhum because I can’t, on the one hand continue in this way, and on the other we would never be able to repair it within the 72 hours allowed.

Gautier will reach the islands of Madeira tonight.

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