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Armel Le Cle’ach rounded Cape Horn on a sunny summer day, once again showing he can do no wrong in this edition of the Vendee Globe.  His 47-day tally from France to the Horn shaves an incredible 5 days off Francois Gabart’s record-destroying benchmark of just four years ago, and with Hugo Boss more or less useless upwind on one tack, it’s all over but the cryin’ for him – and in fact, Jeremie Beyou on the Master of Cock has a real chance of reeling in the unlucky Thomson.

Stephane LeDiraison got the worst of recent bad luck, and he blames his dismasting quite specifically on a shattered Harken runner block.  Here’s some of his words as translated by SA’er Laurent:

It is middle of the night, there is 6 Beaufort, The sea state is already well-developed; I am ahead of a cold front. The boat is doing about 16-17 knots.  The boat speeds up in a gust, and I hear something like a gun shot. A very violent noise, something very sudden, very short, very loud.

I run outside, and when I turn around and look forward, I realize that…the mast is gone.  Almost nothing is left. There is a 1 meter piece of the mast still tied to the deck and another 4 meter long piece, with shrouds and spreader attempting to punch holes in the deck.  Everything else, the rig and the sails are dragging in the water.

So I go back inside, put on my survival suit, a harness, take with me some spotlights and go back on deck to do a quick assessment, which ends up very dire, of course. Not only the rig is gone, but I have damaged the daggerboards, stanchions are gone…and the rig is threatening to hole the hull.

It takes me several hours to clean up the mess. You have to understand the conditions: breaking waves washing the deck, wind is getting stronger and stronger…Very cold water, all in the middle of the night. It is really not easy to manage…First, I keep the rig and the sails attached to the transom, thinking that I will be able to recover some sails. After several trials, it is obvious that it is impossible to do. It is even dangerous, because the whole rig behaves like a sea anchor, attached to the transom, stopping the boat in the breaking waves. The wind is now 8 Beaufort, the swell is about 5 to 6 meters high, so each breaking wave is crashing in the cockpit, sinking the rear of the boat. It is now puting the boat, and therefore myself in danger. So I decide, heartbroken, to cut off everything and let the rig go.

Watch it all unfold in the thread here.

 

December 24th, 2016

hank

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