Message from Foncia

Michel Desjoyeaux describes what happened to his IMOCA 60's broken mast head

Wednesday January 26th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Following the first news this morning of Foncia’s breaking the top of their mast this report was sent from Foncia’s Michel Desjoyeaux and François Gabart at 0659hrs this Wednesday morning:

On 26 January at 0240 GMT while positioned at 41°12.6S and 8°59.8E, Foncia was sailing a course of 115° at an average of 18 knots under Solent and one reef with the wind at 140 degree blowing at 25-30 knots, wind swell, and had the same conditions for around eight hours.

The mast broke above the Solent hound, in other words around 25m above the deck (27.3m long tube). The rigging is still up held in place by the lower shrouds, the runners, the staysail stay and main jib stay. The broken section is hanging down at 20m up and is still held in place by the halyards. The unfurled solent, because it was in use when the damage occurred, was twisted around the whole mast.

The mainsail is held by its halyard at the third reef. Everything has stayed on board, and we've lost nothing overboard. I can’t hide our disappointment, but we are healthy except I have a little pain in my right thumb which I got when I was trying to get the Solent under control.

We have not asked for any assistance. We are currently trying to head for Cape Town under sail, around 600 miles away. Our current speed is 11 knots, course 76°. The forecast for the next few days show no risk (today 25-30 knots from the south, weakening and veering west). In two days there is the passage of the anticyclone (bringing light winds). If the seas are slight then maybe we will have the chance to climb the mast to recover the pieces and to be able to drop the mainsail. After that we should see 20-25 knots from the southeast into Cape Town.

Our ETA Cape Town then should be 30-31 January.

We are retiring from the Barcelona World Race.”

Their close rivals Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron onboard Virbac-Paprec 3 sent the Foncia duo this message of solidarity: “Hello guys, this is really not good news. We really had become inseparable, motivating each other all the time, asking ourselves each day if we could hold up this pace until the end. It's been a great honour to have been in this battle together. Good luck for the rest of the passage and our hearts go with you”.

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