Disaster for Team Adventure

less than 24 hours into their W-E transatlantic record attempt

Friday August 10th 2001, Author: John Greenland/James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic


On Thursday Cam Lewis' maxi catamaran Team Adventure left New York on yet another attempt to break the elusive west to east transatlantic record. But today (Friday) their attempt came to an abrupt end when the port bow broke.

The 110ft Ollier-designed cat crossed the start line by Ambrose Light Tower at 19:03:17 GMT in their attempt to better Jet Services V's record, now more than a decade old. Their start was timed perfectly to coincide with a six day weather window spotted by Ken Campbell of Commander's Weather and Meteo France, starting with a low situated near Cape Race: "We are showing strong winds all the way across and we're advising the boat to stay a little south of the shortest course to avoid the strongest winds and biggest waves," the routers announced.

But at 09:30 GMT, 110 miles south of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, the disaster occured. Team Adventure was sailing at speeds of nearly 30 knots under full sail in dense fog. Half the 15 man crew was asleep and the on watch was maintaining a constant radar vigil. At the time they were over 45 miles ahead of the Jet Services' record sailing with a perfect southwesterly breeze and flat seas when they heard a loud bang.

The port bow broke about two feet behind the forward crossbeam. With the forward crossbeam unsupported on the port side, the forestay went slack and the 15-story high wing mast was in danger of toppling over the side. To prevent this the crew raced to drop the sails and stablise the mast using the runners, halyards and any available rope.

Although the forward section has completely split off from the hull, it is still held more or less in place by the forward crossbeam (and now by lashings). Lewis reported that as they got the situation under control, they winched the broken section of the bow three feet in the air to keep it out of the waves as much as possible. As the hulls have watertight bulkheads at roughly five foot intervals the length of the hull, there is in no danger of sinking.

At present Team Adventure is bound for Shelburne, a deep water port in south west Nova Scotia, Canada where she is expected to arrive Saturday afternoon. She is sailing under bare poles (possible because of her enormous 600sqft wingmast). She is unable to motor because both her propellers were removed prior to leaving New York to reduce drag.

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