SAILING: Dismasted Thiercelin tries to limp on

MARC THIERCELIN, one of only two skippers left in the solo Around Alone race, was heading for the Falkland Islands yesterday after his mast snapped. The Frenchman had carried out emergency repairs and was sailing his yacht "Somewhere" to Port Stanley 200 miles to the east in an attempt to stay in the round-the-world race.

Earlier, race organisers had told his only remaining challenger, Italy's Giovanni Soldini, who was about 15 hours away, to sail to the rescue. He was later stood down. Ten days ago, Soldini rescued the Frenchwoman Isabelle Autissier, whose yacht had capsized off Antarctica. If Soldini had rescued Thiercelin, it would have created the unprecedented situation of all the competitors in Class One of the race being on the same boat - with two of them disqualified. It would also have embarrassed Thiercelin, who complained to race headquarters last week that Soldini was no longer racing alone as Autissier could help him. Some smaller yachts are still in the race in other classes.

Thiercelin had enjoyed an 18-hour lead over Soldini until he hit rough seas west of the Falkland Islands. Thiercelin's mast jumped from its fitting and punched through the deck. "The mast, when it broke, made a big hole in the deck. Water was coming in and he is trying to get that stopped," said the race director, Mark Schrader.

Thiercelin alerted his shore crew in France by satellite phone early yesterday after the dismasting. The race's Internet website reported that the loosened mast was threatening to pierce the hull of Thiercelin's yacht and incoming water had drenched the navigation room, including the on- board computer and the electronic equipment. Thiercelin was left with a only a phone to communicate with after the accident.

"A lot of the rigging went over the side, so he's been busy cutting that away. And because of the hole, there are rough waves crashing on the deck and water's going in. He's dealing with it. He's got pumps and now he's just trying to get the hole plugged," said Schrader, adding that the work was being hampered by the rough seas.

He said Soldini, who changed course and sailed for more than 24 hours to reach Autissier when her yacht capsized in the Southern Ocean, was asked to stand by to divert again. "Received the news of the dismasting. Tell us if you need anything," Soldini said in a terse message. His yacht, Fila, was about 180 miles from Thiercelin two hours after the dismasting.

Thiercelin, as leader of the third leg from Auckland, New Zealand, had been expected in Punta del Este on about 1 March. "On this leg he is 85 miles ahead. He is some 18 hours ahead of Giovanni overall," Schrader said. "If nothing happens to Soldini, I'm sure he will take the lead."

Thiercelin faced difficult decisions. He risks being disqualified if he is towed more than 10 miles. However, he could improvise with what is left of the mast and limp to the Falkland Islands for repairs in an attempt to eventually reach Uruguay.

The Argentinian navy and Falkland authorities were advised of the situation, said Schrader, adding "no outside rescue resources are anticipated as being needed. He has the situation under control as best you could have it."

He said that even if Thiercelin were to make it under his own power to the Falklands, he may need a replacement for his sophisticated mast built of special carbon materials. "He will not find one of those masts in the Falklands," Schrader said.

Soldini rescued Autissier after her yacht turned over on 16 February, approximately 1,800 miles west of the southernmost tip of South America. Autissier had to ride out 30-foot swells and wait for her fellow Around Alone skipper. She was asleep when Soldini finally arrived and was only woken when he threw a hammer against the upturned hull.

Thiercelin drew criticism for not going to rescue Autissier even though he was actually closer to her (he was 120 miles away while Soldini had to cover 200 miles). Thiercelin claimed he had problems with his boom and could not sail upwind. That earned him the condemnation of sailors worldwide, who noted that he managed to build up a 400-mile lead during the rescue.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

£45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on