Sailing: SEB loses mast in Southern Ocean

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The Independent Online

Disaster struck Gunnar Krantz and the crew of SEB for the second time in the Volvo Ocean Race yesterday when the mast came crashing down in the dead of night. On the fourth leg from Auckland to Rio de Janeiro, the yacht was racing hard and fast, powered by up to gale-force winds, through the ice-strewn waters of the Southern Ocean when the mast was broken just above the mainsail boom. The boom, also, was broken, as was the spinnaker pole in use at the time.

The crew, none of whom was injured, cleared all the damage and even managed to rig a small amount of sail to keep the boat moving as they waited for dawn to break and a chance to inspect the underside of the boat. "A severe gust coming from a snow squall made us wipe out and in that moment we lost the rig," Krantz said.

The yacht was about 1,200 miles west of Cape Horn and is expected to continue eastwards, round the Cape and then go into Ushuaia. In Europe, plans were being made to airfreight a spare mast, first to South America and then to its southern tip. But with such slow progress to the Horn and so much work to be done, it will be a struggle to make it to Rio de Janeiro in time for the start of the fifth leg to Miami on 9 March. SEB had to pull out of the second leg, from Sydney to Auckland, with a damaged rudder.

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