A smashed boom in 50 knots of wind slowed the progress of the Irish entry Green Dragon on the second leg of the Volvo round the world race yesterday.
The 70-foot racing machine, skippered by British double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, is heading west from Cape Town in the Indian ocean south of the island of Madagascar.
"We are sorry to report that we have broken our boom in a 50-knot squall," reported Walker in deadpan tone. "We are in the process of recovering the parts. The situation is under control with no harm or risk to anyone. We are carrying on downwind." The boom snapped in two about three metres from the outboard end. It has been taken below to asses the possibility of repair.
The yacht, one of eight on their way to Kochi in south-west India, is 1,500 miles south of Mauritius, where a new boom could be sent by air freight and fitted. That would automatically trigger a 12-hour penalty and Walker appeared reluctant to take this option yesterday afternoon. His sights were still on staying in the top three.
The American yacht, Puma, skippered by Kenny Read, also reported cracked frames in the bow after launching itself off a wave in 40 knots. The damage took seven hours to repair, but Read, who is neck and neck for the lead with the Spanish boat Telefonica Blue, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, was confident enough to carry on racing hard.
T Blue had also had to cope with a shredded sail - and reported some crew seasickness - while the British-designed and built Team Russia was flattened by a big gust.
The boats are racing to the longitudinal of 58 degrees east, which acts as a scoring gate as the fleet then turns left up the Indian Ocean. All have been sent advisory notes by race director Jack Lloyd about the hi-jacking of the oil tanker over last weekend, but their route should keep them well east of any threat from Somalia.
As the frontrunners square up to the problem of crossing the Doldrums, the peleton in the Vendée Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race was threading its way through the Cape Verde islands.
While Loick Peyron in Gitana Eighty and Jean le Cam in VM Matériaux rarely more than a mile apart and swapping the lead on a regular basis, Mile Golding in Ecover continues to fly the flag for the British contingent.
He is eighth, still less than 100 miles from the front, with Brian Thompson's Bahrain Team Pindar 12th. Samantha Davies leads the mid-table trio of Dee Caffari and Steve White in 15th, 16th, and 17th respectively. Jonny Malbon is 19th.