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Vendee Globe..another dismasting

by Hickory Sports on 21 Feb 2001

Source: Hickory Sports

Whirlpool was sailing upwind in 20 knots of wind from the North East, heading 97 degrees on port tack, when the Open 60, skippered by Catherine Chabaud, dismasted at 0235hrs
French time on Tuesday morning. Chabaud had been making a remarkable comeback up the Atlantic Ocean over her two closest rivals, Dominique Wavre (UBP) & Thomas Coville
(Sodebo), and was at the last set of positions less than 170 miles from them.

After immediately calling her shore team, Catherine undertook the painstaking operation to cut away the rig and clear the debris from the deck, to limit any further damage to the hull.
The greatest danger in this situation is that the mast could perforate the hull, knocking against the side of the boat while it remains attached via the rigging. This took 2 hours and 30
minutes to complete. No spar was saved in the process, and the lifelines and stanchions on the starboard side, as well as the antenna holder at the stern, which contains the antenna for
the Argos beacon, were ripped off. Whirlpool was at 42.41 North and 13.27 West and was drifting at 3 knots on a heading of 230 in 25 knots of wind.

Catherine Chabaud decided to start her motor at 0516hrs and thus declared herself to be outside the race rankings from that point.

Situated at 250 miles from Vigo, the Spanish port, she has 90 litres of fuel, which will only get her between 60 ­ 100 miles, depending on the sea state, nearer to land. Not having the
means herself to get into port, her shore team is doing everything in their power to assist her.

Christian Brabant, Director in General of Whirlpool France, contacted over night, is said to be devastated at the news, but reassured that Catherine is safe and sound. He pays tribute to
her tenacity and courage in surely testing circumstances for Catherine.

He will be joining the shore team to welcome Catherine into port.

Radio Interview With Catherine Chabaud:

'It was 0130 UT, I was asleep by the chart table. The boat had been sailing upwind for 24 hours in a fairly chaotic sea, under 2 reefs and staysail. I awoke because I¹d fallen on the
bulkhead. There was a great crack and I leaped out of the cabin to see that there was nothing of the rig left on the deck, just a stub of mast. The mast had broken above the first
spreader and I spent the next two hours clearing the debris. It looked really apocalyptic!

'First off, I tried to get the main sail off the boom. I removed the shroud fittings, and got rid of all the starboard stanchions. The spar for the furler had begun to pierce the hull. There
was no more guard-rail or lifelines at the stern. I only managed to recuperate the boom. I saved plenty of pieces thoughŠit looked like I had massacred my boat. My knees are wrecked
as I¹ve been crawling around on all fours, otherwise I am okay. It was fortunate that the mast fell into the water and not through the hull.

'I noticed that I was 200 miles from Vigo so I am heading towards Spain. I cannot even get a jury rig up. Even if I could effect something, with the wind in this area, I wouldn¹t be able to
go at more than a snail¹s pace. I still have the storm jib, the spinnaker and a ripped gennaker. At around 0400hrs UT I turned the engine on, and so I have abandoned the race! I¹ve only
got 80 ­ 90 litres of fuel left. I am head on into the waves, it¹s fairly choppy, and the boat speed is between 2 ­ 4 knots. I don¹t have enough to get to shore so my team are organising for
a boat to come and meet me at sea.'


For further information:

Go to the official race website: - click on the English flag
Positions are updated at 0830, 1230, 1730hrs GMT daily on the site.

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