Leopard - the full story

James Boyd speaks to skipper Chris Sherlock about the recent rudder loss on Mike Slade's maxi
Leopard during a prouder moment at Skandia Life Cowes Week last year At present Mike Slade's 18 month old maxi Leopard of London is slowly limping back towards La Coruna in northwest Spain under tow having lost her rudder one and a half weeks ago while on a routine delivery trip back from Antigua to the UK. All being well, she is due to arrive in La Coruna on Friday. Leopard's skipper Chris Sherlock, who has been with owner Mike Slade for 10 years and has also run Ocean Leopard and Longabarda on behalf of the Helical Bar property developer, is currently pulling his hair out as he undertakes the huge logistical task of arranging for Leopard to be shipped back to the UK, for her cradle (which is in the UK) to be shipped to La Coruna, while at the same time dealing with Leopard's insurers and her salvors. Sherlock took time out from his hair pulling to tell madfor sailing what happened. At the time of the incident on Tuesday 2 April, Leopard had left the Azores and was bound for Southampton. Sherlock estimates that they were 1.5 days away from Land's End. The weather was lively with the wind between 35 and 40 knots and the swell running at 6-8m. "We were surfing between 12 and 20 knots. We were comfortable. Everything was under control" said Sherlock. At the time they were under storm jib and storm trisail running fairly deep, surfing at between 12 and 20 knots. When the rudder broke the boat rounded up violently into the wind. "At that point I knew there was a catastrophic failure," commented Sherlock. "I inspected the lazaret and the rudder was flailing around. It had broken between the quadrant and the top bearing. I looked over the side and