Roaring Forty damaged in collision

Belgium sailor Michel Kleinjans comes into contact with a container ship in the Portimao Global Ocean Race

Saturday May 16th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
Earlier this morning, Belgian solo sailor Michel Kleinjans was involved in a collision between his Open 40 Roaring Forty and a container ship approximately 210 miles east of Grand Bahama. Kleinjans is uninjured but his yacht has sustained damage, although the singlehander is convinced that he can reach Charleston - the finish line port for Leg 4 of the Portimão Global Ocean Race – 420 miles to the north.

Kleinjans has been in contact with the Portimão Global Ocean Race director, Josh Hall, and the US Coastguard have been informed. Immediately after the incident, solo sailor Kleinjans was in contact with the container ship’s deck officer via VHF radio.

In a message to the three double-handed boats in the Portimão fleet, Josh Hall explained the situation: “At 0950GMT I received a call from Michel aboard Roaring Forty,” wrote Hall in an email. “He has been hit by a container ship and has suffered d amage to the bowsprit and the side of the boat. He is shaken but OK. He is confident that he can get the boat to Charleston and we will be organising for the boat to be hauled and work started as soon as possible following his arrival.”

Kleinjans has opted to take a safer route to the finish line to preserve Roaring Forty: “Michel is planning on a more northerly course and reduced sail in order to guard the boat better and hopefully have a wider wind angle when the front comes through,” adds Hall. “This is not a distress or even a ‘Pan-Pan’ incident at this point, but Team Mowgli - can you please shape your course towards Roaring Forty and be prepared to shadow Michel in?”

Having had a chance to check the status of his yacht, Kleinjans reported-in at 1200 GMT: “Part of the bowsprit has gone and the port side hull-deck joint has carbon loose from in front of the chainplates to the end of the forward ballast tank,” explains Kleinjans. “The inside join t of the ballast tank is cracked along with the mast bulkhead and the knee just aft of the chainplates. Some stanchions are bent and I hope the mast is OK, but it must have hit the ship as well.”

For now, everything is secure on Roaring Forty. “There is no problem sailing on port tack,” reassures the Belgian yachtsman. “As long as I don't heel too much, otherwise water would come in, although mainly into the ballast tanks. I am not sure sailing on port tack is completely OK regarding the mast, although the chainplates seem fine, so I think with only a jib there should be no problem. I think it is better not to over work the mast until it has been properly checked.” At the time of the collision, Kleinjans had the electronic ‘see me’ radar equipment activated and the masthead navigation light was lit. “It is more scarey now than it was at the moment of impact,” admits Kleinjans. “It all happened so quickly and it is better not to think about the ‘what if’s?’”

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