Route du Rhum - A third of fleet head for land

The first 24hrs of racing have seen over a third of the fleet head for land and the worst of the weather and sea state is yet to come.

Of the 123 boats that crossed the Route du Rhum start line on Sunday, 45 have headed for land. This includes 11 Class40s with British skipper Sam Goodchild, aboard Narcos a sister ship to Phil Sharp’s Imerys Clean Energy, dismasted at around 04:30 CET.

The 28 year old sailor was sailing in around 30kts of southwesterly wind and big seas and had just moved into third place. He is uninjured and has secured the boat but will wait until daylight to make a more comprehensive evaluation of the damage.

At 3:50 am this Monday morning, Isabelle Joschke's IMOCA, MONIN dismasted. The skipper is in good health and her team are ready to help her.

Also effected is Jérémie Beyou who met with a tug chartered by his team and he is making for Lorient on board Charal which has technical problems with its steering gear.

The next few days will be the most critical, if the skippers can pass through the storm cleanly they’ll be through the worst of the expected conditions for this race.

Phil Sharp, currently racing in 3rd place in the 53 strong Class40 fleet, called in late Monday night to explain that he too has become victim of damage, he explains:

“On Sunday night I hoisted the small spinnaker and within ten minutes the halyard broke. The sail dropped straight into the water, so I stopped the boat and caught it quickly before (I hope) any damage."

"This halyard is essential for flying our most important foresails in this race – the small and medium spinnaker, so I had to find a solution, and quickly."

"The only option was to climb the mast, and with the wave height expected to increase significantly for the next few days I had to get the job done."

“Then the next problem came. My boat alarm went off – I went inside to find a huge amount of water inside the boat, sloshing around."

"An access port in the ballast tank blew out, causing 500 litres of water to be released inside the boat. It took a long time to bail out and now I have bonded it back in with Sikaflex, so I am praying that it will hold."

“Once this was over it was time to climb the mast. I managed to find an alternative solution for the halyard and thankfully I can now fly my most important downwind sails.

“At the moment my computer won’t turn on so I am unable to access weather or positions. I will need to climb into the electronics tunnel and find the problem asap.” Commented Sharp.

Team meteorologist Jure Jerman reports:

Right now they are sailing upwind in uncomfortable conditions. Over the next 24hrs first they will have to cross the cold front and later in the night, the trough.

It will be extremely windy between 30-45kts, and gusting up to 50kts. It is going to be a horrible sea state with waves between 5-8m today, and between 6-10m Tuesday/Wednesday.

This will be the next tough challenge and I expect to see more boats abandoning in the next 24hrs.

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