11th Hour Racing’s Mālama kicked off the second week of the Transat Jaques Vabre with keel problems, forcing co-skippers Charlie Enright and Pascal Bidégorry to adjust for a more conservative approach to the race’s remaining 2000 miles.
“We’ve been dealing with a lot of breakages throughout the course of this race, such is the nature of a new boat on an action packed and competitive track like this one,” said Enright. “None of these ‘little incidents’ compares to what we went through yesterday. While reaching along in what I will refer to as a typical doldrums squall, we hit 28 knots of boat speed with the J2 and a full main. Shortly thereafter, the boat essentially tripped over itself and we were no longer able to achieve speed. Assuming we’d caught something, we proceeded to try and ‘broach’ it off the keel. When that didn’t work, we backed down … and then backed down again. I took a look in the endoscope and saw what I thought was a line.”
“In a last ditch effort to figure out what was going on, we tacked the boat, hove-to with the keel to leeward and I went over the side to inspect. It wasn’t a rope at all, it was the intake tube that lives in the aft keel fairing…and the aft keel fairing itself was gone.”
The damage is causing intense vibrations onboard and forcing the skippers to sail gently. There is some talk that predicted wind changes will force them onto a reach and put additional stress on the boat, but time will tell whether the boat will remain slow but stable or face more problems. So far there is no definitive answer about what went wrong, but the alloy keel is one of the IMOCA class’ one-design components and should have been identical to those of the rest of the fleet. Even at reduced speeds, Mālama is clinging to 7th place out of 22 (two boats including 11th Hour Racing’s Alaka’i have been forced to retire).
The Transat Jaques Vabre is a transatlantic race from France to Martinique consisting of Ultime, IMOCA 60, Class40 and Ocean Fifty classes.
For more on 11th Hour Racing’s Transat Jaques Vabre efforts, click here.