Becky Scott forced to turn back
Twenty-four hours into the first solo 1270nm leg of the Les Sables – Les Açores – Les Sables race, Artemis Offshore Academy Class Mini protégé and the sole British entrant in this race, Becky Scott has been forced to return to the start port of Les Sables d’Olonne due to autopilot failure. Scott turned back at around 13:00 BST today, approximately 100nm from the start line, and is expecting to arrive back in Les Sables d’Olonne tomorrow morning where she will asses her situation and decide whether it is possible to restart. The race rules give her 36 hours to restart the race if she can.
“We’ve not spoken to Becky yet as the Mini Class rules only allow the competitors to carry a VHF radio. We know that she alerted the official race chase boat of her decision and we’re already in touch with people in Les Sables d’Olonne who could help her but we don’t know the extent of the problem at this stage,” said Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director, John Thorn. “I do know, even without speaking to her, that Becky will be bitterly disappointed with this turn of events and will do everything she can to restart, as she has spent the last 11 months preparing for this final race of the season. But this is the nature of offshore racing and you have to be able to deal with the knocks. Becky is a very determined character and this will help her in the coming 48 hours.”
Up until her technical difficulties, Scott held a good mid-field position amongst the 28 Series boats as the fleet prepared to drop south, back on course to Horta, Azores. Setting off from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday 29th July, conditions were perfect for the race start with 12-13 knots of wind, sunshine and just a slight chop enabling the fleet of 38 Mini’s to cross the line at precisely 12:02 BST, an easy precursor to what is to come: “The routing is looking pretty horrific,” Scott had said. “From the start it’s going to be upwind nearly all the way, so it’s going to be a tough race.” Heading out onto the offshore course, Scott fell into 21st place towards the back of the Series fleet before gaining five places over night to 16th, then 19th.
It’s been a tough early upwind race for the 38 strong fleet of 10 Proto and 28 Series type Mini’s which looks set to continue with predicted wind speed accelerating up to 30 knots. Out of the 38 starters, there have been two confirmed retirements including a broken mast. After 24 hours of racing, the fleet and Proto boats are lead by Giancarlo Pedote, whilst Aymeric Belloir heads up the now 27 Series boats. The rest of the fleet is expected to complete leg 1 of Les Sables – Les Açores – Les Sables in around 10 days depending on conditions, arriving in Horta, Azores on 14th August.