Monday arrival

As PlayStation slowed temporarily by broken mainsheet

Sunday February 23rd 2003, Author: Stuart Radnofsky, Location: Transoceanic
Steve Fossett and his international crew of 12 came through a testing Day 8 (Saturday) - covering 427nm over the past 24 hours - despite the breakage and subsequent repair of the mainsheet - a short but robust piece of carbon-composite rope bearing up to 15 tonnes of load and controlling almost 600sqm of mainsail.

The beginning of Day 9 thus sees the 125ft (38m) maxi-catamaran just 616nm from her destination - the same landfall as Columbus' in 1492. This time the target is not the presumed riches of a new world - but the June 2000 sailing record set by Club Med co-skippered by Grant Dalton and Bruno Peyron of 10 days 14 hours 53 mins 44 secs.

To break Club Med's record, PlayStation will need to arrive at the Bahamian island of San Salvador before Tuesday at 14:53 GMT (09:53 local time)

Skipper Steve Fossett: "I was driving at 1245z when the mainsheet broke - with a bang - at the traveller car. I immediately de-powered the boat by steering deep downwind and pressed the alarm button three times to signal all hands on deck. The crew went to work while I kept the boat coasting at 15 knots - and in less than 30 minutes the emergency mainsheet was rigged and we resumed sailing normally. It is looking like a Monday arrival at San Salvador."

Watch Captain David Scully elaborated on Day 8: "All good things come to an end, and we are ready to back off the blistering pace of this trade wind reaching. Last night we poked north, and got a little close to the high. We spent some hours in light and puffy winds before bailing out with a jibe to the west. As the baro dropped, the wind increased, and soon we were bowling along at our accustomed pace.

"About midmorning (1245z), I was the nav station, and heard a significant bang. My first thought was that our brave reacher, which we have abused unmercifully for the last week, had finally thrown in the towel. I was actually relieved when I ascertained that it was the mainsheet, We quickly spliced in a replacement. The big gennaker continues to hang in there.

"Saturday afternoon was great driving. The waves were big, and the wind strong enough to allow you to drive off the tops, and carry the surf from one crest to the next. It was like punching through with a missile attached to each fist. Everyone should try it.

"Broke the top batten again. This time I think that we will just live with it. Hopefully there is just one jibe left in the last 600 miles. - David Scully"

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