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Vendee Globe Kingfisher break forestay,

by Kingfisher Media on 10 Feb 2001
Ellen devastated, as KINGFISHER narrowly escapes disaster as Genoa
Forestay (main piece of rigging holding mast forward) fails at top of mast -
but the mast holds, for now at least. This happened suddenly after she had
just finished using the Genoa and had furled it away, at just before 1730
GMT Wednesday. The lashings that hold the genoa itself on to the mast have
held the rod and sail in place, but clearly not being able to support any
load. Distraught and exhausted, Ellen continued to sail for the past 36
hours with a massively reduced sailplan - which serves as a complete
explanation as to why the miles have been increasing between PRB and
KINGFISHER.

* To suffer this in the very final stages is a cruel test to the young
skipper that has had her fair share of bad luck in the past couple of weeks.
Sailing the boat slowly, well below its potential, in order to preserve the
mast and her chances of completing the Vendee Globe has become a tough
mental challenge for Ellen - never content if the boat is not happy and
fast... She is restricted to 2 reefs and Solent, and the gennaker only if
conditions are very stable (one wipeout with the gennaker could risk further
damage to the mast). Ellen is hoping for increased winds that will mean her
'safe' reduced sail configuration (2 reefs and Solent jib) will send her off
down the waves with sufficient power that she won't miss the rest of the
sail area. Unfortunately yesterday, the wind gods didn't play, and she was
often making as little as 6 knots towards Les Sables - a depressing ETA
calculation.

* Tactically, Ellen had no wish to share this bad news for the past 36 hours
- 'I didn't want to give Mich a reason to ease off, he could equally suffer
gear failure if he pushes...and I didn't want to give Bilou a reason to
attack harder than he would normally at this late stage in the race.
However, as one can see my heading and speed have dropped away compared with
Mich, I decided it was time to share this bad news. I now have to just focus
on finishing in the top 3, its a long hard way to the finish still, and its
been a difficult 10 days. I'm ready to finish'

* If Ellen does complete the course in the next few days, she will be the
youngest ever competitor to finish, and the fastest woman around the planet
- and only the second solo sailor to get around the globe in less than 100
days...but we'll wait for that finishing line before getting too excited...

* ETA : Depending on whether the wind fills in or not with the depression
right behind Ellen, and that the mast retains its form, she could still be
in late on Sunday or early Monday - but of course, anything could happen -
that we have learnt.

* SILL (700 behind KINGFISHER) and ACTIVEWEAR will fight it out, with
ACTIVEWEAR 600 miles to the west and possibly to pick up first the same
depression that is about to touch Ellen. SODEBO and UBP are just 4 miles
apart, a further 500 miles back.

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