Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Saveol

Disaster for Sam Davies

As Saveol dismasts in the Vendee Globe. Updated - Sam from the boat

Friday November 16th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

At 1745 UTC yesterday evening, Sam Davies reported that her IMOCA 60 Saveol had dismasted. Davies, the only woman competing in the Vendée Globe was down below and was uninjured.

At the time of the incident, Saveol was positioned 130 miles in the northwest of Madeira. While most of the Vendee Globe competitors have passed one side or the other of the depression that has been the major meteorological feature of the race course throughout this week, Saveol appears to have been very close to its centre when the dismasting occurred. Her team report that Saveol was sailing downwind on starboard tack with the wind from 260° and blowing 35 knots with a confused presumably post-frontal seaway of three to four metres.

Immediately following the dismasting Davies attempted to get the boat as safe as possible by securing all the watertight doors in the bulkheads.

Davies had been preparing to go out on deck to take in a third reef, when she heard a noise and felt the mast fall down on port. In the conditions, she could not respond immediately and cut the rigging, so she made herself safe inside the boat in her survival suit and waited for the wind to drop.

At around 0130, Davies began to release Savéol's rig by cutting the wires, sheets and halyards and successfully released the broken rig overboard. At dawn, Davies will carry out a check of the boat before starting the engine and heading to Madeira. Currently, conditions are calmer at around 20 knots. Davies has been resting and is doing well and has not asked for assistance, although the CROSS Griz Nez in France has been informed and has issued a Notice to Mariners sent to all vessels within 200 miles of Saveol.

Saveol is Roland Jourdain's former Veolia Environnement. She was fitted with a wingmast and deck spreaders. At present there is no word on what broke. This is the fourth 'incident' so far in this Vendee Globe, following Safran's keel loss, and the trawler collisions with Groupe Bel and Bureau Vallee.

This morning talking satellite phone Davies commented: "It was quite difficult conditions because I had just gone through the cold front and I had a really cross sea and to start with not much wind and the wind was just starting to establish itself around 25-30 knots and I had the right sails up for those conditions and it had been pretty tricky and then, as I was expecting, we had some big rain squalls coming and the first rain squall came through and I had up to 40 knots, so I bore away and I was easing the sheets from inside the boat and easing the sheets and bearing away to calm it down. I was mentally preparing myself, as soon as the squalls had finished to go out and take the third reef for the night, because it was at nightfall when this was going on. And that is the way I had been sailing for the whole race, is quite conservatively and taking a reef, especially at night when you can’t see the squalls coming, so I was getting ready to my foulweather gear on and that’s when the squall was just finishing and the wind was dropping and the boat jumped off the top of the top of a wave and that’s when I had the impact and then the boat came upright and suddenly there is no more wind in your rigging.

"The hard thing is that when the mast falls down, it falls to leeward so the boat is being pushed on top of the mast so I could hear the mast rubbing against the hull and down the whole side of the hull and under the boat, so I knew that it could damage the hull if I was unlucky, so the main thing was to close all the watertight bulkheads in case it did get pierced so I put my survival suit on because it is the best way to go out and check everything on deck and in the time that this happened and the boat turned around, as I expected it would, so that the mast was to windward of the boat and acting more like a sea anchor but the worst thing was the really big waves and breaking wave and they were pushing the mast and boom into the deck and into the hull still and everything was moving a lot, like around 2m, and there was still a lot of wind in the mainsail attached to the boom, so every time there was a big gust the boom was lifting off the deck and into the water. To start with I didn’t want to go outside in case the boom got caught by the wind or in case there was a big jump, so I wanted to wait to see how the whole situation as going to establish itself before I took any chances to go on deck."

At present it remains unclear which part of the mast/rigging broke.


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