SEB drops rig

Mast broke just above the boom in 28 knot winds

Thursday February 7th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Gunnar Krantz's fortunes in the Volvo Ocean Race continue to work against him. Following the lost of SEB's rudder on leg 3, this morning the mast broke.

"The rig is broken just above the boom," Krantz reported. "The rig is cut away but we saved the boom (which is broken) and we have a broken spinnaker pole."
The disaster occurred between 0630 and 0640GMT this morning. Krantz reported that they had been sailing through a snow storm when a storm gust sent them into a Chinese gybe during which time the mast broke - it is still unclear whether it was a fitting or a spar that broke.

At the time SEB was lying at 58deg 12S, 106deg 47W bang in the middle of the south Pacific portion of the Southern Ocean with Cape Horn still some 1,250 miles away. She had been sailing at 17 knots in 28 knots of wind from the south west. The boat and crew are safe and sound.

With the mast cut away and one spinnaker pole broken, the crew are believed to have used their remaining spinnaker pole to erect a jury rig. Krantz said that this was already in place this morning, but that they would be "improving it" as they head for South America to make repairs. Krantz commented earlier that they would wait until dawn (this afternoon GMT) before starting the engine as they wanted to check for any rope that might have become caught round the prop in the incident.

Dismasting was supposed to have been a word from the past, now that the Volvo Ocean 60s have their overspeced carbon fibre masts, a new feature of this race. Until more details emerge over why the breakage occurred it will be hard to comment on the incident, but needless to say it is not a good sign for the boat nor the team that they should suffer two catastrophic breakages such as this on two consecutive legs in addition to the headboard car problems they experienced on leg one. It is interesting to note that Assa Abloy almost nearly lost their mast when a runner block exploded - fortunately the day was saved for them by a safety strop.

In the last Whitbread Round the World race two boats dismasted on this leg - Silk Cut and the girls on EF Education. Both headed for the Argentinian port of Ushuaia. Here EF Education stepped a new mast while Silk Cut took on more fuel and motor sailed north to Brazil.

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