Orange loses masthead

Top snaps off the giant's cat's mast 30 minutes after start

Thursday February 14th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

The top of the mast snaps clean off 80cm from the top...

Oh dear. After weeks of anticipation for the 13 man crew of Orange, their plans to establish a new time for sailing non-stop around the came to an abrupt halt today.

Bruno Peyron and his crew left the commercial dock in Brest early this morning bound for the record's official start line between the island of Ouessant and the Lizard. In a perfect 28 knot north easterly wind they crossed the line at 10:58:54 GMT this morning.

But 30 minutes after their departure the top of the mast broke off. At the time Orange was sailing under genniker with one reef in the mainsail and it appears that the load from this giant sail must have been too much for the rig. Yann Penfornis, a member of the Gilles Ollier Design Team and the Multiplast yard that designed and built Orange, commented that there is nothing that can for the moment that can explain the failure. Last week prior her mast had been taken down and restepped and all the standing rigging replaced.

The rest of her mast is intact and she is now heading for Vannes and her builders Multiplast. It is interesting to note that this is a similar fate to that which befell Olivier de Kersauson's trimaran Geronimo. However Penfornis, says that there is little connection as Geronimo's mast broke 6m from the top above the shrouds and was made from a different type of carbon.

Orange is due to arrive at Multiplast in Vannes tomorrow morning at 0900. Initial reports indicate that Peyron hopes to make a hurried repair with the intention of setting off again in around one week's time, but this will depend upon how easy it is to repair.

The crew work to get the sails down...

See more photos on the next few pages...

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