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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Written protest: Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, has sent an open letter to the Culture Secretary
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss