Disaster for Orange
Although the boat was sailing with shortened sail (3 reefs in the main and a staysail), she was caught up in a hail storm, which kicked up surprisingly fast.
It would appear that the chainplate for the lower port shroud (cable which holds the mast up) exploded under the wind's pressure, bringing down the mast which then broke into three pieces. The crew freed the rigging very quickly so that the broken pieces of the mast would not damage the hull. So as not to cause any risk for other vessels, everything was cast off under the supervision of the local rescue services who were called to the scene.
Orange arrived in La Ciotat harbour at around 11 pm yesterday evening under engine. Pieces of mast will be examined by experts in order to understand how the incident occurred.
The maxi-catamaran Orange had recently returned from the UK where she had attempted to beat the Round Britain and Ireland record, and was on stand-by to attempt the Mediterranean record from Marseille to Carthage (Tunisia).
The dismasting does not come at a good time as ownership of Orange is soon to transfer across to Offshore Challenges, ready for Ellen MacArthur's Jules Verne attempt this winter.