end of the rainbow
From the Velux website: Belgian solo sailor Christophe Bullens was dismasted this morning off the coast of France en route to the start of the VELUX 5 OCEANS. The 49-year-old skipper had been sailing his Eco 60 class yacht Five Oceans of Smiles in 18-knot winds and choppy seas 15 miles from the Normandy coast when disaster struck.
Christophe was down below with another crewmember while two more crew were on deck. They then heard a snapping noise, thought to have been one of the mast’s shrouds breaking. Christophe raced on deck and saw the mast snap in two places. All four crew were able to react in time to avoid the falling mast and no-one was injured.
The sails and rigging ended up under the boat, blocking the propeller. CROSS Jobourg, the regional centre for maritime surveillance and safety, dispatched a rescue boat from Cherbourg to aid Five Oceans of Smiles.
It took more than two hours to prepare Five Oceans of Smiles for the tow back to Cherbourg, which then took three hours. The dismasting caused serious damage to the starboard side of Five Oceans of Smiles including a hole in the hull by the ballast tanks. The sails are beyond repair.
Christophe had been on his way to La Rochelle, home of the 30,000-mile solo ocean race which starts on October 17. The dismasting comes just weeks after he completed a gruelling 2,500-mile qualifying passage from Plymouth in the UK to the southern tip of Ireland then round the Azores off Portugal.