Just 18 hours after the start of the 4,350-mile Transat Jacque Vabre transatlantic twin yacht regatta on 27 October, the leader of the Class40 fleet, French team Lamotte - Module Creation suddenly broke its mast.
«It was around 7 am and we were sailing in an easterly crosswind with a medium spinnaker," said skipper Luke Berry . - We took two reefs, didn't have too much traffic and the conditions were good. We bobbed a couple of times before it happened. I was resting, Tangu (le Türke, second skipper) was on watch. We didn't understand how it happened. The conditions were not terrible. We collected all the parts, we didn't leave anything at sea. The top of the mast broke off and then the mast broke in half».
Neither Berry nor Tanguy were hurt. The crew had no choice but to sail ashore to Roscoff, Brittany . The crew arrived in port by 4pm.
«We, everyone involved with the project, are really disappointed. Especially when you consider that we were the leaders when it all happened»," adds Berry.
Not the only disaster.
It may be of little consolation to the team that Lamotte is far from the only crew to have had serious problems early in the race. In Class40, Frenchman William Mat helin Moreaux suffered a shoulder injury and he and his compatriot and teammate Marc Guillemot had to turn their Beijafloreare towards the nearest port. The Japanese crew of Hiroshi Kitada and TakeshiHara reported that their Kiho's main middle spinnaker, a southeasterly wind of 30 knots «blew» so the sail cannot be repaired.
The IMOCA fleet was not without problems either. On Ariel II, Finn Ari Huusela and Irishman Michael Ferguson 's mainsail broke. The team had more luck than the KIHO crew, though; the idea to patch the sail didn't look so hopeless. She's now keeping herself in the middle of the fleet.
On French V and B - Mayenne by Maxime Sorel and Guillaume LeBrec had serious problems with the left outrigger, which forced them to go to Brest. The team is now trying to catch up with the rest of the fleet. The MACSF of the German-French team of Isabelle Joschke and MorganLagravière, however, remains in Brest with a damaged keel.
The new generation of French Advens for Cybersecurity, Thomas Ruyant and AntoineKoch had to make a pit stop at Cherbourg. The team is now back in the race and is ranked 18th in the fleet.
With Lamotte eliminated, the Class40 palm has passed to the British-French Leyton crew of Sam Goodchild and FabienDelahaye .
In second place, just a few nautical miles behind, is Aïna byAymeric Ch appellier andPierre Leboucher.
The IMOCA 60 fleet is divided.
Part of the skippers decided to stay close to shore and are moving towards Spain and Portugal. French Charal of Jérémie Beyou andChristopher Pratt lead this group. With less than 10 nautical miles behind is Apiva by Charlie Dalin and YannEliès.
The other part of IMOCA is still heading for the ocean. First in this group are the British Hugo Boss of Alex Thomson and NealMcDonald and the French Bureau Vallée II of Louis Burtonand Davy Beaudart. Technically, they are ranked 17th and 15th overall.
The IMOCA fleet is expected to take 13-14 days to reach Braziland the Class40 fleet about19 days. However, sailors do not rule out that new speed records may be set in both categories this year.