A Sad Day for France

On the evening of January 25th, sailors involved in the Barcelona World Race were chasing the leader Virbac-Paprec 3 south toward the Cape of Good Hope. Virbac-Paprec 3 had opened up its lead on the #2 boat Fonica, skippered by Michel Desjoyeaux and Francois Gabart, from 5 miles to over 40 miles, although a big high pressure system was working into their path, threatening to disrupt the leaders’ perfect runaway.

But around 0345 hours on the morning of the 26th, second place Desjoyeaux and Gabart contacted the Barcelona World Race operators to announce that their mast had broken upwards of the solent and the staysail forestays, 24 meters above the deck. Fonica had been sailing for the previous eight hours under a reefed main and solent jib with 30kts of southwesterly winds, averaging 18kts per hour. They gracefully retired from the rest of the race.

Desjoyeaux reported that the rigging – main and solent jib – was still in place, with nothing lost overboard. The solent jib, which had been unfurled during the demasting, twisted itself around the broken mast with the damaged section hanging down on the rig, supported by the halyards. With the main furled to its third reef, Desjoyeux reasoned that with the current weather conditions holding they would reach Cape Town under sail, by the 30th or 31st of this month. Neither crew member reported any personal injury, and they did not request assistance as they began the 600 mile trek to Cape Town.

Fellow Frenchmen Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron aboard Virbac-Paprec 3 sent the following message to their competition: “Hello guys, this is really not good news. We really had become inseparable, motivating each other all the time, asking ourselves each day if we could hold up this pace until the end. It’s been a great honour to have been in this battle together. Good luck for the rest of the passage and our hearts go with you”.

For more on the Barcelona World Race, please visit www.barcelonaworldrace.com/en

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